The Obama administration recently made a critical executive decision that may be of special interest to the immigrant population of Newark, New Jersey. President Obama announced that if certain conditions are fulfilled, illegal immigrants who apply to work legally in United States would become eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon retirement. Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits are also part of the package.
According to President Obama’s announcement, illegal immigrants must apply for work permits and a Social Security number. Once part of the Social Security Administration system, those workers pay Social Security taxes which would supply benefits after retirement. However, immigrant workers cannot expect the benefits to start immediately. Like other recipients, the immigrant workers must work for 10 years before becoming eligible for Social Security benefits and five to 20 years to earn eligibility for SSD benefits, if qualified.
However, no worker spared deportation would be eligible for federal aid programs, such as welfare, food stamps or other help programs based on income. The executive order does not allow illegal immigrant workers to buy health insurance as provided by the Affordable Care Act nor can they claim a tax credit that could be used to reduce medical, dental or prescription insurance plan costs. Interestingly, in order to remain eligible for Social Security and Medicare, future administrations or Congress must recognize and extend Obama’s action of legalizing the presence of these immigrant workers.
Following the announcement, the action’s supporters and critics expectantly expressed varying opinions. While some agreed with the order because these workers would be paying into Social Security and Medicare through payroll deduction, dissenters stated that making illegal immigrants eligible for Medicare and SSD benefits assaults the rights of those immigrant families who are currently working legally in the country.
Irrespective of reactions and speculations, President Obama’s announcement is sure to interest many Newark’s diverse population. However, this order does not mean that New Jersey residents are exempt from the various issues that arise when seeking SSD benefits. Most probably, denials and appeals would continue to be a part of the Social Security system.
Source: The Associated Press, “Some in US Illegally could get Retirement Benefits,” Jim Kuhnhenn, Nov. 27, 2014