Amendment Would Save Social Security And Medicare Billions, CBO Says

Amendment Would Save Social Security And Medicare Billions, CBO Says

The Senate's immigration reform bill would make illegal immigrants wait 13 years to gain citizenship, and access federal benefit programs. But it turns out some may benefit sooner. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the impact of the legislation is "highly uncertain" because the bill's wording could be interpreted in different ways. Thus, the CBO assumed that the bill would increase federal spending on a number of programs by more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years as immigrant households start accessing federal benefits.

TSCL is concerned that illegal immigrants would receive Social Security and Medicare benefits based on earnings from jobs worked prior to gaining work authorization. Senators Orrin Hatch (UT) and Marco Rubio (FL) introduced an amendment, supported by TSCL, that would prevent payment of benefits based on prior illegal work for younger illegal immigrants.

The provision would ban earnings from jobs worked without legal authorization from being used to determine entitlement to Social Security benefits and for calculating the amount of initial benefits, legislation that TSCL and TSCL's grassroots members have long supported. But the amendment does not close a related loophole in current law that allows older immigrants who received "non-work" Social Security numbers issued prior to 2004 to claim Social Security benefits without having ever received work authorization.

The CBO estimates confirm that there would be early costs both to Social Security and Medicare, primarily for disability benefits starting as early as 2017, assuming enactment into law this year. The CBO said, however, that the new TSCL-supported amendment would save the programs about $6 billion over the first 20 years, with the savings growing greater in the future.

The CBO projects that the far bigger costs in early years of an amnesty would be to Medicaid, and for Child tax and Earned Income tax credits since illegal immigrants tend to be of child-bearing age and have low incomes. The following chart illustrates 9 programs with the highest estimated costs.

 Estimated Budgetary Effects of Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744)

Over The 2014-2033 Period

(In billions of dollars)


2014-2023 2024-2033 Total
Social Security and Medicare $3 $65 $68 billion (includes estimated $6 billion in savings)
Low Income Health Programs: "Obamacare" insurance subsidies and assistance, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program CHIP $112 $400 $512 billion
Refundable Tax Credits: Child tax credits and earned income credits $127 $270 $397 billion
SNAP: Food stamps $6 $40 $46 billion
Other Direct Spending: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) $14 $30 $44 billion
Total: $1,067 trillion

TSCL encourages all readers concerned about the future of their Social Security and Medicare benefits to contact your member of Congress. Let's tell Congress to stop paying Social Security based on unauthorized work! Work under invalid and fraudulent Social Security numbers should be invalid for entitlement to Social Security benefits.

Source: Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimate, S.744, June 18, 2013 and July 3, 2013.  The Economic Impact of S. 744, Congressional Budget Office, June 2013.

"Poll: Who Are Illegal Immigrants?" Mackenzie Weinger, Politico, December 1, 2011.