Some immigrants get benefits under Obama’s actions
Washington — Many immigrants in the United States illegally who apply for work permits Under President Obama’s new executive actions would be eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon reaching retirement age, according to the White House.
Under Obama’s actions, immigrants who are spared deportation would be eligible to obtain work permits and a Social Security number. As a result, they would pay into the Social Security system through payroll taxes.
No such “lawfully present” immigrant, however, would be immediately entitled to the benefits because like all Social Security and Medicare recipients they would have to work 10 years to become eligible for retirement payments and health care. To be eligible, either Congress or future administrations would have to extend Obama’s actions so that those immigrants would still be considered lawfully present in the country.
None of the immigrants who would be spared deportation under Obama’s executive actions would be able to receive federal assistance such as welfare or food stamps. They also will not be eligible to purchase health insurance in federal exchanges set up by the new health care law and they would not be able to apply for tax credits that would lower the cost of their health insurance.
The issue of benefits for immigrants who are illegally in the United States is a particularly sensitive one for the Obama administration. As a result, the White House has made it clear that none of the nearly 5 million immigrants affected by Obama’s actions would be eligible for federal assistance.
Less clear until now was their eligibility for retirement benefits for which they would have paid into through payroll taxes.
One administration official said Wednesday that any immigrant considered lawfully present and holding a Social Security number would be entitled to Social Security and Medicare upon retirement because they would have paid into the system.
Many immigrants currently working illegally also pay into the Social Security system because their employers withhold their share of payroll taxes. But those payments would not qualify toward the 10 year requirement needed to be eligible for benefits, the administration official said.