Social Security advocates are accusing House Republicans of launching a “sneak attack” on disability insurance on the very first day of the new Congress.
The House on Tuesday passed legislation laying out parliamentary rules for the year. The bill included a little-noticed provision blocking Congress from shifting funds to prevent a 2016 shortfall in Social Security’s disability insurance program.
The Social Security Administration’s actuaries projected that the disability insurance program’s trust fund will run out of money next year, resulting in a 20 percent benefit reduction for nearly 11 million Americans.
According to the Huffington Post, the White House states that many immigrants in the United States illegally who apply for work permits under President Barack Obama’s new executive actions would be eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon reaching retirement age.
Under Obama’s actions, immigrants who are spared deportation could 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 remain qualified, 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, or other income-based aid.
They also would 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.
The Obama administration first denied younger immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children access to health care exchanges and tax credits in 2012, especially disappointing immigrant advocates.