Provision To Prevent Social Security Payments Based On Illegal Work In Senate Immigration Bill

Provision To Prevent Social Security Payments Based On Illegal Work In Senate Immigration Bill

TSCL Calls Seniors To Action

With President Obama pushing for an immigration bill "by the end of the summer," Congress is rapidly moving major immigration reform legislation. Under the bill passed in the Senate, an estimated 8-11 million unauthorized immigrants would receive work authorization, giving them access to Social Security numbers and with it – entitlement to Social Security and Medicare benefits with ten years of earnings.

At issue is whether illegal immigrants would be able to benefit for Social Security and Medicare purposes from 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. The amendment was 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. TSCL's Legislative Assistant, Jessie Gibbons delivered a letter from Chairman, Larry Hyland, expressing TSCL's support for the amendment to Senators Hatch and Rubio.

"Protecting the integrity of the Social Security program for current and future retirees is critical to our members and supporters," Hyland said. "As such, TSCL salutes you for introducing an amendment to S. 744 that would prohibit unauthorized workers from receiving Social Security benefits based on work completed illegally, with stolen or fraudulent Social Security numbers… we believe your amendment would improve the program's long-term solvency and prevent an unspecified and unnecessary strain on the Trust Fund."

But the financial impact of immigration reform on Social Security remains in question. As of June 30, 2013, no government estimate of the long-term impact on Social Security has been made public. It is not yet known whether the House bill will contain similar provisions to protect Social Security.

Under current law, when noncitizens receive a valid work-authorized, Social Security number, all earnings, from authorized and unauthorized work count toward qualifying for and determining benefits. Under an amnesty, potentially hundreds of billions in earnings under invalid Social Security numbers could become the basis for calculation of Social Security benefits as unauthorized immigrants change status, eroding program financing more rapidly and raising the possibility of more benefit cuts.

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 not to pay Social Security based on unauthorized work! Work under invalid and fraudulent Social Security numbers should be invalid for entitlement to Social Security benefits. To learn more, track bills that are in congress.

For a big eye-opener on how illegal immigrants can become entitled to Social Security under current law and for information on Social Security's totalization agreement with Mexico, read Social Security Benefits For Noncitizens, from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, Publication No. RL32004.

Source: Letter to Senator Marco Rubio Re: Financial Effects On Social Security Of S.744, Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration, May 8, 2013. "Hatch, Rubio Unveil Amendments to Further Strengthen Immigration Bill," Senator Orrin Hatch (UT), June 12, 2013.