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Despite claims to the contrary, foreign-born parents cannot receive Social Security payments. Tom Margenau writes in his new “Social Security And You” column:

As I’ve pointed out so often in this column, far too many people confuse SSI with Social Security. SSI is a federal welfare program that pays a very meager monthly check to about 6 million elderly and disabled poor people in this country. Even though the program is managed by the Social Security Administration, SSI is not a Social Security benefit, and SSI checks are not funded by Social Security taxes.

Up until about 20 years ago, it was possible for an elderly person who moved to this country legally to qualify for SSI benefits after they arrived — assuming they met all the eligibility requirements. So, many people… brought their parents over here and then took them down to the Social Security office to help them file for Supplemental Security Income payments.

Because they went to a Social Security office to do this and because the name of the program makes it seem to be a Social Security supplement, many folks mistakenly believed their parents were getting some kind of Social Security benefit. But again, they were not. Those foreign-born parents were getting monthly SSI checks.

And they didn’t get the checks for long. Sometime during the early 1990s, Congress changed the law to say that, with only very few exceptions, only U.S. citizens could qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments.

So foreign-born parents have never “mooched” benefits from the Social Security program, and for the past two decades, they haven’t “mooched” benefits from the Supplemental Security Income program either.

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