Tags: Immigration | Bill | Hides | Trillion | Time | Bomb

Immigration Bill Hides $1 Trillion Time Bomb

Sunday, 17 June 2007 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- The immigration bill being debated by the Senate would allow more than 2 million illegal workers who received Social Security numbers prior to 2004 to receive more than $966 billion in Social Security benefits by 2040, warns the Senior Citizens League, a 1.2 million-member nonpartisan seniors' advocacy organization based in Alexandria, Va.

Despite a provision in the bill that would prevent individuals who performed illegal work and then obtained a Social Security number after 2007 from receiving credit for Social Security taxes paid in previous years, the legislation, according to the League, does nothing to prevent aliens who illegally obtained "non-work" Social Security numbers prior to 2004 from claiming benefits.

Between 1974 and 2003, the Social Security Administration issued more than seven million "non-work" Social Security numbers, which entitled some foreign nationals – some of whom were illegal aliens – to services such as Medicaid and food stamps, says Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for the League.

According to the League, the majority of non-work Social Security numbers were issued during an era of less restrictive immigration policy; in some cases, aliens didn't need proof of citizenship to receive a number.

Despite their "non-work" status, the League maintains that millions performed unlawful work, and under the Senate legislation currently being considered, this group would be eligible for Social Security benefits.

"The Senate is telling the American people that illegal aliens wouldn't be able to collect Social Security benefits under this immigration deal, and that is flat wrong," says Shannon Benton, executive director of TREA Senior Citizens League. "The truth is that illegal aliens would receive more than double in Social Security benefits what American taxpayers have spent so far on the war in Iraq."

According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund will begin paying out more than it is taking in by 2017, and will be completely exhausted by 2041.

NewsMax asked League spokesman Brad Phillips to get into the fine print.

That's still problematic, because as you can see, it doesn't deal with any dates prior to 2004, which is the period which we are concerned with. The language would need to be amended to deal with either dates prior to 2004, or to deal with "non-work" Social Security numbers.

Perhaps an article in today's Houston Chronicle best explains what happened: "Hutchison sought to deny Social Security credit for all time worked under illegal status. But her amendment, accepted by the Senate during the earlier floor debate, was pared to deny work credits only to illegal immigrants who obtained legitimate Social Security numbers after January 2004. Otherwise, the amendment could have required changes in the 2004 Social Security Protection Act, triggering the opposition of powerful senators."

To be issued these cards, non-citizens who do not have DHS [Department of Homeland Security] permission to work must have been found eligible to receive a federally-funded benefit or are subject to a state or local law that requires them to have an SSN to get public benefits. Examples include SSI, Medicaid, and Food Stamps.

The SS numbers continue to be issued but SSA has greatly reduced the number it issues. In 2005 the number was fewer than 15,000.

At NewsMax's request, the League's Mary Johnson threw some more light on this nettlesome 2004 Social Security Protection Act.

She explained that according to the Congressional Research Service, the 2004 Social Security Protection Act restricts payment of Social Security benefits to certain immigrants who file an application for benefits based on a Social Security number assigned on or after January 1, 2004.

Specifically, a non-citizen who files an application for benefits based on an SSN assigned on or after January 1, 2004 is required to have work authorization at the time an SSN is assigned or at some later time, to gain insured status under Social Security.

If an individual gains work authorization at some point, Johnson adds, all of his or her earnings would count toward insured status and in figuring the initial retirement benefit, even earnings while working illegally.

"Moreover, the Congressional Research Service has opined that a non-citizen who files an application for benefits on an SSN assigned before January 1, 2004, is NOT subject to the work authorization requirement," Johnson says.

"Thus, all of the individual's Social Security covered earnings would count toward insured status REGARDLESS of his or her work authorization status. In other words, those immigrants may qualify for Social Security without ever having legally worked," Johnson concludes.

Johnson further explains that her League lobbies for the law to be changed to better protect Social Security from the costs of illegal work. "We do not know the specific reasons why members of Congress would resist Hutchinson's attempt to strengthen this aspect of law protecting Social Security and the benefits of their constituents."

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WASHINGTON -- The immigration bill being debated by the Senate would allow more than 2 million illegal workers who received Social Security numbers prior to 2004 to receive more than $966 billion in Social Security benefits by 2040, warns the Senior Citizens League, a 1.2...
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Sunday, 17 June 2007 12:00 AM
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