I cannot count how many times angry clients and other people have told me that the reason Social Security is having so many problems is because of the illegal aliens in this country. There are endless versions of this claim, but they all distill to this: hardworking Americans are getting shafted so that Uncle Sam can lavish benefits on people who are here illegally.
So, can illegal aliens get Social Security benefits? The definitive answer is No.
The Requirements To Collect Benefits
Social Security has requirements for anyone to get benefits. These include:
* Earning 40 quarters, which amounts to 10 years of working while paying into Social Security
* Being lawfully present in the United States.
Congress has spelled out in exacting detail who is qualified for such federal benefits as Social Security. The largest single group of non-citizens who can get Social Security benefits are lawful permanent residents, better known as the holders of green cards. All the other categories (refugees, Cuban immigrants, victims of human trafficking) comprise such a tiny number as to have zero affect on Social Security. Keep in mind, too, that simply being a refugee or a Cuban immigrant does not get you benefits. These people would still have to qualify by working 10 years, being disabled or over age 65. For Supplemental Security Income, they would have also to show they have no assets nor any income.
Illegal Workers Subsidize American's Retirement
Rather than detract from what Americans get in Social Security benefits, some illegal workers actually add to those benefits. The illegal workers do so when their employers take Social Security taxes from their wages (many illegal workers use someone else's Social Security number.) Those taxes are sent to Social Security. But, the illegal workers who earned those wages can never get them back in the form of Social Security benefits. As of 2010, per a study by Social Security, the payroll taxes on illegal workers added $12,000,000,000.00 (that's 12 billion dollars) to the system. That money got paid out to Americans in monthly benefit checks.
Blame Politician, Not Illegal Workers
It is human nature to suspect that other people are getting what you are entitled to. But, it is important to resist the impulse to blame illegal workers for problems with Social Security. Illegal workers are paying billions of dollars in taxes and not getting benefits in return. They are, in essence, subsidizing the retirement of Americans.