In these bitterly divided days, people on both sides of the political spectrum cling to certain ideas as if they were articles of faith. For those on the right,
one of these unerring truths is that undocumented workers (also known as illegal aliens) are draining such government programs as Social Security. I hear at least once a week from somebody telling me how Mexicans are getting Social Security benefits without having to wait or prove anything.
Is You Is Or Is You Not The Truth?
So, it is true?
Sadly for our friends on the right, no. A new article from the Motley Fool has some interesting insights. First, the undocumented workers cannot legally collect Social Security benefits under any circumstances. But, those same workers are paying into the Social Security system via payroll taxes.
Twelve Billion Dollars Is A Lot Of Dollars
According to the AARP, undocumented workers contribute $12,000,000,000 every year towards paying the benefits of those who are qualified to get Social Security benefits. Ah, you say, but what about Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Can't non-citizens get those benefits? Yes, they can, but seldom. The funding for SSI is not from payroll taxes, however, so the net inflow of tax-withholding money by undocumented workers into Social Security is getting paid back out each month to American citizens.
The Precise Opposite Of The Truth
It turns out that the truth is precisely the opposite of what you might hear from right-wing media. Not only are undocumented workers not draining Social
Security, but they are also helping to keep it afloat. What our right-wing friends do with this information is up to them. The easiest thing would be to dismiss this as fake news and cling to a falsity.
Let's hope not.