Illegals Slated To
Receive Social Security
agreement reached between the Bush administration and the
government of Mexico would allow illegal aliens who are
granted amnesty to claim credit for the time they worked
illegally in the U.S. when applying for Social Security
benefits, according to an analysis of the agreement by a
nationwide senior citizens organization.
That means the Social Security system, which already faces
bankruptcy by 2040, would be obligated to pay out tens of
millions of dollars more to applicants.
TREA Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan seniors group
in Washington, D.C., obtained a copy of the agreement last
month after filing a Feedom of Information lawsuit against
the government three years ago.
The deal was reached between the U.S. and Mexico in 2004
but has not yet been signed by President George Bush or
submitted to Congress. If the president does sign the agreement,
it will become law unless Congress votes against it within
"If you open up the trust fund to people who have been
working in the country illegally for many years, that bankruptcy
date [for the Social Security system] can only come sooner,"
said Brad Phillips, a spokesman for the seniors league.
Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration,
said the agreement will not change U.S. law, which bars
illegal aliens from collecting retirement benefits. "To
get Social Security benefits, you have to be legally in
the United States. This agreement does not address in any
way immigration, immigration laws, or override current law,"
Lassiter told the Washington Times. He said the Social Security
Protection Act of 2004 prevents illegals from collecting
But according to the seniors league, the agreement with
Mexico permits illegals who are later granted legal status
through an amnesty or other act of Congress to claim credit
for the work performed illegally once they apply for benefits.
The Social Security Protection Act does not prevent anyone
who is no longer illegal from collecting benefits.
"If an immigrant gets what's called a valid work-authorized
Social Security number at some point, then he or she could
eventually file a claim for benefits," said Phillips.
"The government would use all earnings to calculate
the retirement benefit, even earnings while working illegally."
The agreement with Mexico is one of a number of so-called
"totalization" agreements with foreign countries
that permit workers to pay into only one country's retirement
system in order to later collect benefits. The agreements
protect benefits for workers who spend time working in more
than one country.
The Government Accountability Office has also raised concerns
over the agreement with Mexico.
GAO said that family members of workers covered under the
agreement would also become eligible for Social Security
benefits, further straining the system. GAO said the costs
of the agreement would be much higher than the $105 million
first estimated by the Social Security Administration. The
agency said no one knows how many Mexican workers would
be covered by the agreement, or how many would apply for
The U.S. retirement system is more generous than Mexico's,
creating an incentive for more Mexicans to find work in
the U.S., and to apply for benefits. U.S. benefits are distributed
progressively, so that lower wage earners get back proportionately
more benefits compared to what they pay into the system.
Mexico's workers get back only what they pay into the system.
Under the agreement with Mexico, Mexican workers would qualify
for benefits with just six quarters - 18 months - of earnings,
compared to 40 months for U.S. workers.
"The Social Security Administration itself warns that
Social Security is within decades of bankruptcy," said
Ralph McCutchen, chairman of TREA Senior Citizens League.
"Yet they seem to have no problem making agreements
that hasten its demise. Our 1.2 million elderly members
didn't play by the rules and sacrifice through difficult
times so we could fund millions of workers who crossed the
border and decided to work here illegally," he told