NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 4, 2007

An agreement the Bush administration reached with Mexico on Social Security benefits would allow illegal aliens granted amnesty in the future to claim credit for the time they worked illegally, says Stephen Dinan in the Washington Times.

But Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, says the agreement doesn't change U.S. law:

  • The law states that those who do not have authorization to work will not get benefits under a totalization agreement (that is, agreements that end double taxation, allowing a worker who didn't have enough credits in any one country to qualify for benefits to pool his or her credits).  
  • The agreement does not address in any way immigration, immigration laws or override current law; a 2004 law, the Social Security Protection Act, prevents illegal aliens from getting benefits.

But others, including the TREA Senior Citizens League, disagree, saying the 2004 law also states that if those aliens later get legal status -- through an amnesty or some sort of legalization plan such as the one President Bush and the Senate tried to enact last year -- they would be able to collect the benefits based on their time as illegal workers.

Apart from its legal standing, the law has been disputed by others as well, including the General Accounting Office (GAO):

  • A 2003 GAO report said the agreement with Mexico was shoddy work that didn't investigate the reliability of Mexico's data or take into account the millions of illegal aliens who would become eligible.
  • They also disputed the Social Security Administration's estimate that the agreement would cost $105 million a year for the first five years, saying the costs could be much higher given the uncertainty of who could benefit.

Source: Stephen Dinan, "Social Security for illegal aliens," Washington Times, January 4, 2007.


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