President Barack Obama's plan to bring illegal immigrants "out of the shadows" will make millions of them eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits and likely allow them to eventually collect more than they have legally contributed, reports say.
That part of the plan has some Republicans stunned.
"First with Obamacare we were told we should pass it and then read it to find out what was in it," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told The Washington Post
"Now Obama overreached and acted unilaterally on immigration, which should have been vetted and authorized by Congress, and we’re finding out there’s more to the story than Obama and the Democrats originally told Americans."
According to a federal law signed in 1996
, people who have FICA payroll taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act can collect Social Security and Medicare when they become eligible, if they are deemed "lawfully present in the United States."
Obama's amnesty plan not only frees millions of immigrants from the worry of deportation, but it also allows them to legally obtain Social Security numbers and work permits.
FICA taxes are split between an employer and employees, reports The Post, and typically 12.4 percent is collected for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare.
The federal law also allows lawfully present immigrants to receive survivor and disability benefits, if taxes have been paid into the programs.
"If they pay in, they can draw," White House spokesman Shawn Turner said in an e-mail to The Post.
The estimated five million people who received protection from deportation through Obama's plan are not eligible for other federal benefits, however, such as food stamps, housing subsidies, financial aid for students, or even for Obamacare, said Turner.
However, some illegal immigrants have applied for, and received, insurance benefits
through the federal insurance exchanges.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), some 115,000 persons who enrolled in Obamacare had not provided proof of citizenship by the Sept. 5 deadline, down from 966,000 in May, and were to be dropped as of Sept. 30.
However, those with "immigration data-matching issues" were allowed to retain their Obamacare coverage during a six-month grace period to provide documentation.
Under the new requirements, illegal immigrants will be able to stay in the United States without fear of deportation for three years at a time, if they register and meet other requirements.
Social Security recipients receive average monthly checks of $1,294 for retirees, $1,146 for workers with disabilities and $1,244 for people collecting survivors' benefits.
Adding immigrants to the system may help the programs' overall finances, said Robert Shapiro, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton.
"The great thing about immigrants, with respect to entitlements, is you get the young worker and you don’t get the young person’s parents," Shapiro said.
However, working immigrants have been paying into the Social Security system for years, but most of the benefits were not attributed to workers properly, according to a report last year by the Social Security Administration
In 2010 alone, the agency found, unauthorized immigrants "worked and contributed
as much as $13 billion in payroll taxes," but "only about $1 billion in benefit payments
during 2010 are attributable to unauthorized work."
Overall, reports CNNMoney
, SSA figures show that unauthorized immigrants have paid $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.
"They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits," Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA, told CNNMoney.
"Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009," he said.
Goss said that as baby boomers enter retirement, payments from immigrant workers will prove key to keeping the Social Security system afloat. Without such payments, the Social Security Board of Trustees says, promised benefits could run out by 2037.
As illegal immigrants do not have Social Security numbers, as much as $6 billion in workers' tax payments every year are being "allocated to non-existent Social Security accounts," says a report from the left-leaning think tank Century Foundation, according to Forbes
"Experts attribute these payments to the forged documents that illegal immigrants purchase in order to find work," the Century Foundation report said. "This $6 billion is collected each year with no future benefit-rights assigned. This sum is certainly more than any income taxes that would be owed on the earnings involved."
However, Heritage Foundation poverty expert Robert Rector told Breitbart News
that Obama’s executive orders could cost taxpayers $2 trillion.
The "net cost" includes total benefits minus the total overall benefits paid in by amnesty recipients, Rector said.
He based his calculation on the assumption that 4 million immigrants will be participating and will live, on average, 50 years.
The cost includes the immigrants' potential to receive Social Security and Medicare, said Rector.
"What [Obama] is doing is he is putting these 4 million people — who on average have a 10th-grade education — into the Social Security and Medicare programs," Rector said.
Workers with that low education level will draw about "three dollars worth of benefits out of those programs over their lifetimes for every dollar they put into them," said Rector. "But the overall cost in outlays will be around a trillion dollars for those programs alone."
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