Illegal Immigrants Pay Social Security Tax, Won’t Benefit

John Lantigua, Seattle Times, December 30, 2011

While many Americans believe illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes, billions of dollars deducted from paychecks issued to undocumented workers flow to the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year. Those workers almost certainly will never see that money again.

Social Security officials keep a record of wages that do not match up with real names and numbers in their system. The record is called the earnings suspense file.

In 2009, the last year for which figures are available, employers reported wages of $72.8 billion for 7.7 million workers who could not be matched to legal Social Security numbers.

That total 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.


“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.”


Employers are obligated to ask for a Social Security number, but they don’t have to confirm it is real. That has led to the printing of millions of false Social Security cards sold to newly arrived illegal immigrants.

The SSA notifies employers every year of Social Security numbers and workers that don’t match up. Employers tell employees they have to get new cards.


A false SSA card, accompanied by a phony alien registration card–known as a green card–can be had for about $200 in Florida, Economos said.

Some immigrant advocates encourage illegal immigrants to save their check stubs in the hope that they one day might be able to claim their Social Security benefits . . . .


Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a leading voice for stricter immigration enforcement, concedes illegal immigrants put billions of dollars into Social Security. He says the figure he has heard is about $7 billion per year in FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) contributions–Social Security plus Medicare.

“But that $7 billion figure pales when compared to the cost of having illegal aliens here,” Mehlman said.

His federation estimates local, state and federal spending on illegal immigrants–mainly for education and health care–costs about $100 billion per year.


When it comes to withholding tax, the amount taken out of the checks of illegal immigrants differs. Because most never will file a tax return and have no chance of receiving a refund, some workers claim many dependents so they don’t pay much in the first place.



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  • ragnar2345

    Can’t seem to find any sympathy in my heart. Here illegally, using false paperwork to get a job, and still mooching off the system. Let them pay into SS until they are caught, then ship them home. And we can keep the money.

  • Anonymous

    Why should they see that money again?

    Also – who else is going to see that money again, who is under 50 years old today?

  • Anonymous

    The story presents a half-truth. It is possible for people to immigrate to the US and get $700 SS checks. As a cashier at a bank, I would routinely cash SS checks for Mexicans, Vietnamese, who almost certainly had not been in the US working for 50 years.

    This story is like complaining that people who cut in line at a restaurant and didn’t get a ticket number can’t be entered into a raffle with all the ticketed customers.

  • Anonymous

    They won’t get social security, but they will get SSI for people who never put in to social security.

    How in the world could 7.7 million workers earn 72.8 billion dollars in one year? If they all earned 1 million it would be 77 billion. But how many people, especially illegals who work in the lowest paid industries, food and janitorial earn 1 million per year?

    Liberal propagandists can’t even use their calculators any more.

    They must think their readers are 3 year olds who will believe anything we are told.

  • Puggg

    4: Billion divided by million is a thousand, and 72.8 divided by 7.7 is less than ten, so each illegal is making under $10,000 a year. That is even less than peanuts, in fact not even a peanut, in today’s economy. That’s why they’re here, cheap labor.

  • HH

    They are receiving PLENTY of other “benefits” for which they are obviously and completely unentitled – so the idea that they are somehow not recouping what they may be contributing to the “system” is absolute hogwash! Try again Jose!!!

  • Anonymous

    This was going on in the early 80s. I had an illegal friend who had taxes taken out of his check (by way of using a fraudulent SS number) and he would complain about not being able to get some benefits. If he could commit one fraud, however, why wouldn’t he be able to continue the charade?

  • WR the elder

    Illegal immigrants who pay social security taxes are using bogus social security numbers which is a form of ID fraud. We should regard the taxes as a penalty for breaking at least two laws.

  • Mike Harrigan

    Does anyone really believe that these ILLEGALS will never see any of this money? First they are already seeing much more in benefits than any SS monies they have paid. “Free” health care, free education for their anchor babies, free food at school, section 8, food stamps, etc, etc, etc,. And besides, some pandering Democrat down the road will promise retroactive benefits for the SS monies paid by these darling voters…I mean ILLEGAL ALIENS. They will eventually get this money, when the Dems pass a law requiring it.

  • Question Diversity

    The idea that illegal aliens are net beneficiaries to the Social Security system, because they pay taxes they will never receive in benefits, is a distortion. Five (!) years ago now, I ‘splained it, as Ricky Ricardo might say:


    Warning: These explanations are long and accountanty.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, plenty of them get SSI benefits, because they are allegedly disabled or elderly. SO many elderly immigrants here in NYC who have never paid a penny in social security or other taxes get SSI checks, Medicaid, EBT cards, free transportation, etc.

  • Jeddermann.

    “A false SSA card, accompanied by a phony alien registration card—known as a green card—can be had for about $200 in Florida”

    In Illinois and I suspect most everywhere in the country this is the going rate more or less. And not just a couple documents, an entire sheaf of documents can be had for that amount, and purchased not just by illegal Mexicans but by various nationalities who know where to buy this stuff. “Lee-tle Vee-lage” in Chicago is notorious for this kinda documentation. A business run with workmanlike business methods.

  • Lilith Whyte

    “…employers reported wages of $72.8 billion for 7.7 million workers who could not be matched to legal Social Security numbers.”

    So, the average illegal is paying approx. $9,400 a year into SSI? Methinks not.

  • Jim

    It makes up for the illegals who drive drunk and kill without insurance.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want them paying anything. I want them out of my country. Also I don’t want them serving in the armed forces either. I want them back home in Mexico. Here is a good saying: “The only good Mexican is one that’s in Mexico.”

  • Jack D.R.

    “Yes, some are paid under the table, but the majority are paid by check, and they pay taxes out of those checks.”

    This is a classic example of a liberal telling the White American “Horde Human” and “Folly Folk” what to think and how to believe. Alas, the majority will be paid under the table; this is most certain. If we believe the employer, of these illegal workers, is going to pay social security and FICA and Workers Compensation and deal with the apparatus of withholding and minimum wage and all the documentation/accounting represented by issuing a check, we are mistaken. The employer will pay cash to the illegal family and save much, much money.

    The key to this dilemma is stopping these people at the border which, unfortunately, is not going to occur. With a great deal of the general Border Patrol being of Mexican heritage, a betrayal of one’s own race is not going to happen in most cases (these Mexican Border Patrol agents are not going to betray their own race). In a normal system of national government, Mr. Lantigua’s article would be ludicrous and comical.

    What does the term “Illegal” represent to Mr. John Lantigua? Going to another main issue of the situation, either this Federal Washington system does move to enforce the laws of the land or no laws are acceptable. The system cannot pick and choose the enforcement of laws; yet, this is exactly what the system does. It is worthy to note that our government, through the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, betrayed everything our European American/European Founding Fathers put in place for us (European Americans/Europeans).

  • robbie

    Illegal aliens get million$ in refunds from the IRS, especially via the Child tax credit and earned income credit – All they need is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The ITIN is for anyone working or doing business in the U.S. who has no SS#. Because so many illegals are minimum wage earners, they can get back all federal taxes (if any) that they paid in.

  • Anonymous

    Illegals need to go home. They trash the out buildings on my cousin’s ranch, they approach my sister’s house and hide in her back yard until her grand children must be careful where they play outside and sometimes get calls to go inside and lock doors because officials are looking for drug suspects in area. This is all in S. Texas. Should

    Texans have to live like this? S. Texans see NO slow down in illegal crossers. Close the border and tell Homeland Sec. Director the border is NOT safer than ever before. It is a myth.

  • Anonymous

    5 — Puggg wrote at 8:45 PM on December 30:

    “4: Billion divided by million is a thousand, and 72.8 divided by 7.7 is less than ten, so each illegal is making under $10,000 a year. That is even less than peanuts, in fact not even a peanut, in today’s economy. That’s why they’re here, cheap labor.”

    That cheap labor rate is supplemented by food stamps, housing assistance, and a number of social programs that come from tax payers. ALSO, they are adept at gaming SSI for permanent disability claims, which many health facilities are happy to go along with because they make money processing them, are sympathetic, or both.

    Add in the policing and criminal/societal damage they cause and it is easy to see that the cost of these people far outweighs any impact that any deduction from their pay could augment.

  • Anonymous

    America is suffering the karma of President Lincoln and Congress failing to see The Liberia Project through to its completion after correctly initiating it and repatriating large numbers of former slaves and their descendants back to Africa. Consequently, millions of embittered and angry descendants of African slaves prowl the streets of the United States today in search of payback against Whitey and his family!

    The nation is also suffering the karma of the government not following through and permanently securing our national sovereignty after President Truman’s Operation Wetback succeeded in removing large numbers of illegal Mestizos, Mexicans, Hispanics, and Latinos. Consequently, millions of embittered and angry Mestizos have invaded the United States in search of payback against Whitey and his family!

    Why does Congress and the nation typically initiate the correct steps to resolve national problems and then ultimately lose the will to finish what they started? This seems to be a historical pattern of behavior that is unique to our nation.

    Today, I doubt the United States has the collective resolve to accomplish anything great like The Liberia Project or Operation Wetback due to the fact that the relentless push of Marxism has brainwashed millions in the majority class to the point that they mindlessly walk into voting booths like brain-dead zombies and vote for an illegal alien African Muslim, as well as the subjugation and dispossession of themselves and their defenseless families. We are truly witnessing historically-unprecedented events. Has any nation on earth ever been conquered without a fight like the United States has been conquered?

    Recall that Gaddafi boasted, several years before he was killed, that Allah would grant victory in Europe without a war [1]. He was completely correct and the same is true of the United States. It’s completely surreal, my friends. Millions of Whites are completely surrendering to an advancing tide of undesirables from the third-world. The few who resist or question the nation’s surrender are denigrated as racists and cast aside. (forward to around the three minute mark to hear him say it in his own words…)