The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that creates a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Legislation is now underway in the House. At issue is whether illegal immigrants would be able to receive benefits for Social Security and Medicare based on jobs worked prior to gaining work authorization. Senators Orrin Hatch (UT) and Marco Rubio (FL) introduced an amendment that would give the Social Security program protections to prevent payment of benefits based on prior illegal work. That amendment is strongly supported and endorsed by TSCL.
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 grass roots members have long supported.
But the financial impact of immigration reform on Social Security remains in question. As this issue goes to press, it is not yet known if the final version of any bill that emerges will contain the provision. As of June 30th, no government estimate of the long-term impact on Social Security has been made public.
The Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the Senate bill that found the deficit would drop by $897 billion over 20 years. TSCL questions the analysis because under the senate bill illegal immigrants waiting to become citizens would be in provisional legal status for 13 years, paying taxes into the system and but not yet eligible for benefits. Thus the full cost of new benefit liabilities would not be reflected in the estimate period.
According to a report from The Heritage Foundation, the long-term cost of amnesty could be at least $6.3 trillion, counting all government benefits. "Amnesty would also raise retirement costs by making unlawful immigrants eligible for Social Security and Medicare, resulting in a net fiscal deficit of around $22,700 per retired amnesty recipient per year," wrote authors Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, Ph.D.
According to TSCL's 2013 Senior Survey, 87% percent of respondents oppose the government policy that allows the payment of benefits based on earnings from unauthorized work under fraudulent Social Security numbers. "Our government is rewarding these people for committing document fraud while considering changes that would cut the benefits of other beneficiaries who have abided by the law and paid in the legal way," says TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland. TSCL is fighting this bill and lobbying for legislation that would ban the use of earnings under false and fraudulent Social Security numbers for determining entitlement to Social Security and Medicare.
Source: "Senate Bill Puts Illegal Immigrants In Line For Social Security Benefits," David Harrison, CQ Roll Call, April 24, 2013. Analysis of S.744, Stephen Goss, Social Security Office of the Chief Actuary, May 8, 2013.