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The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) to Congress: Don’t Pay Social Security Based On Illegal Work
Date:7/15/2013

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) July 15, 2013

When unauthorized immigrants work under phony Social Security numbers, what happens to their prior earnings’ records when their legal status changes? The question is important because earnings are the basis for determining entitlement to Social Security and Medicare benefits. Under current law, individuals who later gain work authorization can claim prior earnings under invalid Social Security numbers without penalty to gain eligibility to Social Security. Social Security uses all earnings from jobs — worked both legally and illegally to determine the initial retirement benefit. "That means without changes to protect Social Security, immigration reform would lead to big new long-term benefit costs based on illegal work," says TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland. "These are costs that neither the Congressional Budget Office nor the Social Security Administration have fully disclosed to the public," he says.

To qualify for Social Security, workers generally must have 40 quarters of coverage — about ten years of earnings history, but fewer quarters are required for people under age 61 with qualifying disabilities. There is no official published data on the amount of wages on file attributable to aliens working without authorization, but the Social Security Administration maintains an earnings suspense file that represents an estimated $763.5 billion in wages from 2000 through 2010 , most of it believed attributable to illegal workers. Social Security uses earnings, not the taxes paid to determine entitlement to benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the Senate immigration reform bill S.744 would cost Social Security and Medicare about $70 billion over 20 years. But under the legislation, immigrants in provisional status must wait 13 years before they would have access to most federal benefits. The CBO’s 20-year estimate thus does n
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