Alexandria, VA - August 20, 2012 -- A new immigration policy recently launched by the Obama Administration could backfire when senior voters head for the polls this fall. Seventy-seven percent of Senior Americans do not agree with the new “deferred action” immigration policy, according to a new poll conducted by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL),one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups. “The new policy would provide as many as 1.2 million illegal immigrants with a path to Social Security benefits and add huge new future liabilities to the program,” says TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland.
Under the new policy, illegal immigrants younger than 30 years old, who came to the United States before the age of 16, will be allowed to remain in the country without risk of deportation and to get work permits if they have been law-abiding and meet certain requirements. Although the policy does not grant legal status, work authorization would provide access to Social Security numbers.
“Under current Social Security law, that is all that’s required to later claim benefits,” Hyland explains. “To file a claim, individuals must have a work-authorized Social Security number, and would become vested for benefits with ten years of earnings,” Hyland says. “The oldest of those who are eligible for the deferred action could feasibly have worked illegally long enough to already be vested for Social Security — even for disability benefits,” Hyland notes. This would add to the program’s solvency problems since the Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Trustees have estimated that the Social Security disability trust fund will be fully insolvent by 2016.
Illegal immigrants get jobs using counterfeit, invalid, and stolen Social Security numbers that employers use to withhold payroll taxes and report earnings to the Social Security Administration. Immigration advocates argue that unauthorized workers have little chance of collecting benefits. “That changes once those workers gain a valid Social Security number,” Hyland says. Social Security Administration policy allows noncitizens who have evidence of earnings under invalid Social Security numbers, to claim and reinstate those earnings for use in determining entitlement once they obtain a valid Social Security number. The earnings are then used to determine the initial retirement benefit amount.
When the Social Security Administration receives wage reports from employers with Social Security numbers and names that don’t match those on file, the reports go into an Earnings Suspense File until they can be reconciled with the rightful owner -- which can occur years later when an application for benefits is received. Over the past ten years for which data is available the Social Security Administration has received, on average, more than 9.5 million suspicious wage reports annually representing more than $69 billion per year in wages. “And it’s the wages that are used to determine benefits, not the amount of taxes paid in,” Hyland notes.
" The new Obama Administration policy is opening Social Security to as many as 1.2 million non-citizens who won’t even have legal status, " Hyland says. This is occurring at the same time Congress and the President are debating major reforms that would cut the Social Security and Medicare benefits of U.S. senior citizens who paid into the system the legal way,” he adds. TSCL supports the “No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act” (H.R. 787), introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), which would ban the use of earnings for jobs worked while illegal to be used to determine entitlement.