Q: I am sick and tired of all these people who bring their parents over here from foreign countries and then immediately put them on their Social Security account. No wonder Social Security is going broke! I personally know two couples in my neighborhood who get Social Security. They brought their parents up from Mexico and now they are mooching monthly checks off the Social Security system. You can’t tell me this isn’t an outrage!
A: It might be an outrage if it were true. But it’s not. Either you’re lying about these two couples you “personally know,” or you’ve picked up on some xenophobic neighborhood gossip and fallen for another in the long line of urban myths about Social Security.
Let’s say you’re getting Social Security checks. And let’s say you have some parents living overseas. And let’s say you bring them here to live with you. And then, finally, let’s say you want them to get dependent parent’s benefits on your Social Security account. Do you know what you would have to do first?
Die! Social Security benefits to dependent parents are paid only on the account of a Social Security taxpayer who has died.
So, as for these two couples of whom you speak who brought their parents up from Mexico to get Social Security benefits — unless one or both members of the couple are dead, it simply can’t be true.
But let’s get back to you. Let’s say you conveniently thought you would simply die just so that your parents could get Social Security benefits on your record. It’s not quite that simple. They would have to jump through several other eligibility hoops before the government checks would start rolling in.
Here’s just one of them: Your parents would have to prove that you were supporting them before you died. So, unless you were sending half your paycheck to your parents before you died to pay their rent and buy their groceries, they simply couldn’t qualify for benefits on your record.
In the United States, there are only about 2,000 people getting monthly Social Security checks as a parent on a deceased adult child’s Social Security record. That’s 2,000 people out of about 50 million Social Security beneficiaries. So even those people legally getting parents’ benefits aren’t exactly bankrupting the system!
Copyright 2011 The National Memo