December 29th, 2011
Immigrants Contribute Billions Into Social Security, Medicare

I didn’t know, until today, that there’s such a thing as an earnings suspense file. It’s a running count that the Social Security Administration keeps of the wages that don’t match up with real names and numbers in their system.

It’s a mystery, but it’s not the conundrum that people think. And if you’re Latino you have more than a passing suspicion about why this disparity exists. The Seattle Times reported on this suspicion as well:

That total (earning suspense file) hit a record $90.4 billion, earned by 10.8 million workers, in 2007, just before the recession. Some of those were legal workers who simply made paperwork mistakes, but the majority are believed to be illegal immigrants.

In real numbers, allocated to real agencies, it works out like this, in 2007:

  • $11.2 billion went into the Social Security Trust Fund
  • $2.6 billion went into Medicare

The report continued:

“When you hear people voicing anti-immigrant sentiments, one of the first things they say is, ‘They don’t pay any taxes, and they just take money out of the system,’ “ said Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association Florida, based in Apopka, Fla. “But that just isn’t true. Yes, some are paid under the table, but the majority are paid by check, and they pay taxes out of those checks.”

It’s not that hard to come by false Social Security and alien registration cards — one of the waiters at one of my favorite restaurants in San Antonio is named Felipe, he told me so. But his name tag says Antonio sometimes, and Marcus other times, and he smiles at the discrepancy. Since 1986 all employers have been obligated to ask for proof of residency from their employees and the SSA lets employers know if the names and numbers don’t jibe — it’s easy to go out and get other ones.

Regardless of the name or the number, though, the money they pay into the system finds its way into the earnings suspense file because no one ever claims it.

[Photo by DonkeyHotey]

21 thoughts on “Immigrants Contribute Billions Into Social Security, Medicare

  1. Continua:
    Los compraron por la modica suma de 120 dl y lo peor es que ese numero de seguro social afectara de multiples maneras a la persona que realmente le pertenece, robo de identidad , problemas de credito, y claro problemas de impuestos, por favor hay que tomar conciencia si no respetamos las leyes de nuestros paises de origen, deberiamos respetar las del pais que nos da de comer

  2. Por mi experiencia como empleador en una cadena de comida rapida, se requiere pedir identificaciones en el formulario I-9 , la mayoria de los empleados que trabajan en cadenas de comida rapida son ilegales, y la sociedad inmigrante reclama que pagan impuestos como cualquier otro ciudadano , lo cual es una compleat mentira, para empezar seguimos nuestras malas costumbres del juega vivo y siempre tratar de ver la manera evitar pagar lo que nos corresponde, mintiendo en la cantidad de dependientes en el formulario W-4 , pidiendo prestado seguros sociales de hijos de la vecina para recivir un cheque del IRS por sobrepago de impuestos, sin mencionar que los documentos Resident Card y Social Security Number lo compraron

  3. Pingback: Undocumented Immigrants Can’t Even Freeload Properly | NewsTaco

  4. Pingback: Stupid Undocumented Immigrants Can't Even Freeload Properly | The Daily Refried

  5. Coryh 007: Uh-huh. And, because your anecdote is all encompassing, and because you personally know each and every person who can be described as an undocumented worker, migrant worker, undocumented immigrant or illegal immigrant, that makes this whole story about the earnings suspense file and all the billions of dollars in it simply some kind of a lie to make it okay to not hate Mexkins and all the other brown people who are so not the same as you that you just can’t trust ’em. Or people who do.

    You have reality issues. Professional help is in order among many applicable styles, types, categories and levels to choose.

  6. How come they have Social Security and Medicare number when they don’t have any legal document/s to present? Who’s identification have they been using?

  7. The statement that they pay taxes out of their checks is not a fact. I live in Portland know plenty of mexcians that work in the US without proper papers and pay no taxes just to social security and Medicare that’s it. After they make about $50,000 then their moving back to Mexico to not work anymore. That’s what I call taking money out of the system!

    • In the meantime, before they go back to “not work anymore” they are paying sales tax, gasoline tax, etc. They pay utilities (electricity, gas, telephone, cell phone), groceries, buy cars, furniture, clothes, keep money in bansk, etc…I would say that your statement is WRONG. And what the article says is true….so…you need to research before spewing hateful rhetoric.

    • hi Coryh, you just made a blanket statement about 12-14 million people based on one person you know.  I’m not so good with math, but can you figure the statistical ratio of that?

    • That is where your wrong 007. It is a proven fact that most of Immigrants come to the United States to stay here. I know this for a fact. I am not saying that some go back. But most stay for a better life here in the U.S. Trust me I know how shitty life is in Mexico for most of the populations at least. I went to work for 2 years down there as an English teacher. 

    • Well, at least as far as SS, and Medicare is concerned, its a system that they would never benefit from as its only for old people, long after they move back to Mexico.  They also tend to make minimum wage, which tends to not get taxed anyways, and everyone has to pay sales taxes when you live in a place, so its not the huge giveaway you claim. 

    • What are you talking about? ” That’s what I call taking money out of the system!” They work hard for that money,and some times they don’t even take days off work. And they do pay taxes just like us in stores ,rent and taxes on our bills and community.Also if they were to save $50,000 as you say I bet it was poorly payed and it would be a very hard job or nasty job that no one wants to do. Most  know not to spend money on what is not necessary. Most have family in poverty in Mexico. Or other Latino states because just because they speak Spanish dose not mean that they are Mexicans.

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