Free Inside every ‘Guest Worker Plan’: A Social Security Time Bomb!
Part I: The 'time bomb' and how it will go off.
By S. J. Miller
We've all heard the cries that the poor illegal alien pays Social Security taxes for which they will never receive any benefits, and that their "illegal wages add FICA payroll deductions to what Social Security Administration (SSA) called the "Earnings Suspense Fund." The total of employer-reported quarterly Social Security deductions whose SSN doesn't match the name on SSA files now totals (are you ready for this?) $376 billion!!! (b) With the passage of any "guest-worker plan" currently in Congress, every illegal alien who becomes legal will have the chance to claim as much of the $376 billion as they can.
Does Tamar Jacoby, representing the "open borders lobby" of the Manhattan Institute, really expect me to believe all that money is against wages for "jobs Americans won't do?"
So let's explode another myth perpetuated by the "illegal aliens' lobby;" that illegal aliens "contribute" to the Social Security system and the economy by paying Social Security payroll deduction taxes and accept that they have no hope of collecting benefits. The truth is that when an illegal alien attains legal status, whether by amnesty/"guest worker program", marrying an American or some other trickery, that illegal alien is issued a genuine SSN. They use it to earn future wages and Social Security credits, obtain public-funded benefits, financial aid for their education; the list goes on.
But here's the time bomb: Their new SSN enables the illegal alien to retroactively grab wage credit for money in the Earnings Suspense File, even if they were using a bogus SSN or "borrowing" a valid SSN assigned to someone else! It's all part of each and every "Guest Worker plan." There's virtually no way to prevent it so long as the new "guest worker" is issued a valid SSN.
Their genuine SSN is their ticket; it's just that simple.
How the time bomb works...
Having read of the Earnings Suspense File, it didn't take long to figure out the results of 20 million-plus illegal aliens all making a grab for that $376 billion.
My 27 years' experience with computer applications systems told me the SSA system already has a process for transferring wages from one SSN to another, and a veteran at SSA confirmed it: "If we determine that wages were reported under a "wrong" SSN - we can remove those earnings and post them to a worker under the "correct" SSN. It's not difficult, but it is time consuming amid all the other priorities we have.
"Under a recent law (HR 743, the Social Security Protection Act of 2003), it states that we cannot post wages earned when illegally working, starting 2004. We can, for years before 2004. This means that if an illegal had bogus pay stubs or W-2's (making up numerous names and SSNs) from 1980-2000, and was given amnesty OR became legal - we would have to give them "credit" for those 20 years of illegal work! Starting 2004, we can't give them credit for work done while illegal, so Congress would have to change the law to give them credit for illegal work done after 2003. BUT, who knows what Congress will do."
Considering the money at stake, both in past Social Security payroll deductions and future benefits, can anyone doubt that these illegal aliens will do all possible to lay claim to "wage credits" and FICA tax deductions from the SSN they've been fraudulently using? Does anyone suspect they might also try to take wage credit that doesn't belong to them? Is the Pope a Catholic? Certainly their experience with immigration law enforcement and prosecution won't be a deterrent.
Straight from the SSA Operations Manual...
Every guest worker plan bill currently in Congress contains this time bomb, no matter the author: McCain, Kennedy, Hatch, Craig, Domenici, Specter, or any of the Congressional panderers. Although none dare mention the "Social Security Time bomb," it's plainly outlined in the SSA manual, SSA's Program Operations Manual System. (http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/aboutpoms ) (c) (Passages from POMS are Italicized to distinguish them from my comments)
First, a lesson in SSA policy and lingo. These policies are posted on the internet, and are almost laughable in their attempt to address the situations encountered with illegal aliens while being politically correct, ethnically and racially sensitive. I can't imagine who the author thought would be fooled.
According to RS 01403.005 (Wage Evidence Policy, Policy & Authority), SSA begins with the Presumption that individual earning records on file at SSA are correct. But 3-Corrections, is the illegal aliens' loophole: "There are certain circumstances under which the presumption of earning record accuracy may be overcome." And that's the "time bomb" by which every illegal alien tries to grab as much of that $376 billion as the SSA bureaucracy allows. Fortunately for the illegal aliens "4-Sufficiency" states "The Secretary has full authority to determine what evidence is sufficient to overcome the 'presumption of correctness.’" Should the illegal alien present what SSA calls "Primary Evidence" to overcome the Presumption, such as Employer Statements, W-2 forms or paycheck stubs, that's fine.
It's when the illegal alien lacks evidence (and what illegal alien doesn't?) that SSA will accept "Secondary Evidence," and that's when the cigarette packages, tamale wrappers and Western Union wire receipts for remitted wages become SSA-acceptable substitutes. Further on, C-Policy - Evidence; 4-Overcoming Presumption of Correctness for Posted Earnings states
(a) If it is known that primary evidence was used to establish a wage record, generally only another piece of primary evidence or two pieces of corroborative preferred secondary evidence may overcome the presumption of correctness.
(b) Such evidence must convince the authorized SSA employee that the previous wage record is incorrect.
(c) If the type of evidence used to establish the original wage record is unknown, follow the Sequential Development in D.1 below.
Do you believe this? It apparently takes a Philadelphia lawyer to assign a label to each piece of "evidence" submitted by illegal aliens. Does anyone notice that not once does the SSA POMS manual mention establishing the authenticity of such evidence? Not once. That seems to be the easy part; the authenticity is established when the illegal alien brings it to the SSA office.
Reading the "cookbook-style" directions in D-Procedure for Sequential Development might suggest extra care to prevent fraud until you remember "4-Sufficiency" above. The "steps" are so "flexible" that literally anything can be accepted as evidence by administrative people who make up these cockamamie "rules."
Next comes RS 01403-042 (Accepting Form W-2s Not Completed Properly). Does this mean that illegal aliens might submit W-2s that they've produced after the fact, not knowing which boxes to check and which numbers to enter in each? This is another section that should be eliminated with the admonition: If the W-2 matches the one on file at IRS for the tax year, accept it. If not, throw it out. Isn't that easy?
The SSA directive for "Other Errors" is "If other errors were made, the W-2 is acceptable if correct information can be obtained from an informed source, e.g. the employer (or his/her representative). As we know, the SSA Commissioner or authorized employee decides what constitutes an "informed source." Should an authorized employee be excluded from decisions because their illegal alien family members would create a conflict of interest? Oh, no, no, no. That would be racial profiling and ethnically insulting.
SSA wants to overlook that employers issue W-2 corrections on From W-2C, and the same test will work--if there are "other errors," the employer would have issued a W-2C. If the presented W-2 matched the IRS W-2, it's OK. If not, reject it.
The next policy (RS 01403.050 When Development of Secondary Evidence of Wages May Begin) should be totally eliminated from SSA policy. Stating "Begin only after all sources of primary evidence have been exhausted as in RS 01403.004.D-1. Without "primary evidence" such as employer statements, paycheck stubs or W-2s (that were filed for the year in question with IRS and a Form 1040, obviously), the process should stop. In plain language, this section tells when SSA should begin accepting the cigarette packages, tamale wrappers and Western Union wire receipts as wage evidence.
RS 01403.060 Employee's Own Record of Wages is a hoot!. Even after SSA admits the "value of these records is weak because such records serve the individual's own interest, but regular, complete and genuine records may corroborate other secondary evidence.”
Regular, complete and genuine? These are illegal aliens we're talking about!
Here's the process for accepting these records as genuine:
Obtain a signed (and dated) statement from employee (or his/her representative/survivor) showing;
a. who made the entries on the record;
b. whether entries were made currently;
c. the basis of the entries;
d. whether any statements, pay-envelopes, etc, were furnished by the employer, and if so, what became of them, and;
e. reconciliation of all discrepancies and explanation of all inaccuracies to the extent possible.
Notice that all that's needed is a signed and dated statement--no sworn under penalty of purjury, not even notarization! No need for the "records" to even be in English! A statement and doctored "wage records" are all that's needed. I predict that LaRaza, LULAC, Catholic Charities, the Friends' Society and the rest of the taxpayer-funded advocates will be conducting classes for illegal aliens in concocting these records.
And the best for last: RS 01430.077 Secondary Evidence - Allegations of Wages by Migrant Farm Workers SSA outlines that "special problems unique to migrant farm workers" present special problems that SSA takes upon themselves to resolve, rather than assigning the problem to the worker. If extra time and effort is needed, it should be the employee who pays for the help, not the taxpayers. SSA lists several problems:
(a) no Social Security tax withholding or reporting;
(b) no wage statements given to employees;
(c) language complications preventing communication;
(d) difficult determinations of the employer's identify and payment of "wages.”
Did I get (a) correctly? SSA is working to obtain wage credits when there were no FICA taxes paid? All the problems listed are functions of the illegal alien entering the US without legal permission. They gambled, and they lost. Taxpayer-funded SSA employees shouldn't be helping illegal aliens to gain Social Security benefits for their illegal wages.
Adding insult to injury is 3-Statement Content to outline who may provide "secondary evidence:"
"Obtain signed (and dated) statements from the employee, fellow agricultural workers, and anyone else, including family members, who have actual (not hearsay) knowledge of this employment that show as much of the following information as possible:
(a) name of employer(s)
(b) address of employer
(c) periods of employment
(d) rate(s) of pay for each period of employment
(e) amount paid per year of employment
(f) basis for declarer's knowledge of the above facts
(g) relationship of declarer to the employee
Again, only a "signed and dated" statement is needed - no sworn under penalty of perjury or notarization needed. That means it's difficult to prosecute anyone lying with fraudulent statements. 4-Statement Development gives even more leeway to the "authorized SSA employee," the claimant and their representative:
(a) Use RCs to detail any oral evidence when signed statement cannot be obtained from employer. (A Report of Contact is a form used by SSA employees whenever they talk to anyone over the phone, or want to make notes. Recording information an RC transforms what would normally be regarded as worthless and non-credible into "evidence," even with no means of verifying the identity of the "informant.")
The interpretation of this directive is that the "evidence" an individual provides shouldn't be discarded just because the "witness" refuses to even sign and date a statement or won't visit the SSA office in person. In that situation, the SSA employee simply writes up an RC that magically becomes "evidence" for the record despite the obvious lack of credibility. Another situation allows the SSA employee will transform an "RC" into evidence by a "phone call." That the SSA employee has no means of verifying identity of the person on the line, the phone call becomes "evidence" to favor granting Social Security wage credit for an illegal alien.
Accepting such flimsly evidents translates to awarding Social Security benefits to those who don't deserve them. Not wonder the predictions of "Social Security will soon go bankrupt!"
(b) Use approximate dates/rates of pay/wages where precise information is not known or not available
(c) Make sure that the information is as complete as possible.
After just a cursory review of the Social Security Operations Manual, Americans clearly see how far the Social Security Administration will go to produce "evidence" to justify US Social Security benefits to illegal aliens. If their written policy is this blatant, the front-line reality is generally much worse.
Do you notice that SSA employees (paid by your taxes) are directed to assemble this evidence rather than the illegal alien? Does anyone doubt that SSA employees will immediately help illegal aliens while American citizens wait for hours? That's the way it was after the 1986 amnesty, and likely will be again.
Why the Congressional silence?
It's no surprise that few members of Congress mention the "time bomb;" it might stir the anger of every American over 50 for the Bush Administration's endless tricks to give amnesty to illegal aliens. Americans don't like being blind-sided by politicians' sneaking around making deals in the dark of night - the recent furor over the UAE handling of US port operations demonstrated that.
It would expose the lie of "Guest-Worker Amnesty" authors that "my bill won't allow any illegal alien to profit from their lawbreaking" since illegal aliens will be thronging SSA offices to do exactly that.
Politicians in Congress have no reason to object; they won't lose personally. Their generous taxpayer-funded pensions will more than compensate for any Social Security benefits they may lose.
They want this immigration issue resolved, dead and buried; they're tired of listening to outraged constituents who face illegal immigration in their daily lives. They hope to be out of office and collecting their pensions and/or lobbyist salaries when the time bomb finally goes off. Until then, they want the "time bomb" kept quiet.
One thing is certain - they can't do a "Sergeant Schultz "I know nothing" act after their passage of HR 743 to limit (even slightly) illegal aliens' claiming Social Security credit for their past illegal wages.
Even reports of the Senate Finance Committee (chaired by Chuck Grassley - IA) for HR 743 acknowledged that their "no wage transfers after 2003 law" was inadequate:
"This provision does not fully address this issue as individuals who begin working illegally and later obtain legal status could still use their illegal earnings to qualify for Social Security benefits. However, the Commissioner of Social Security has raised concerns about SSA's ability to administer a more comprehensive approach. The Committee believes the proposal in the bill is the best approach to this issue at this time, but the Committee will continue to consider ways to more fully address this issue in the future." (d)
As a card-carrying member of the Bush Administration, of course Commissioner Barnhardt told the Senate that SSA "can't" fully correct the problem of illegal alien wage transfers! What else would she tell the puppets of George Bush known as the US Senate except what they want to hear?
And Americans have no doubt what "ways to more fully address this issue in the future" might be. Denying it's an amnesty, the Senators adhere to the George Bush naming convention of "Guest Worker Plan."
Reality of "guest worker plan" amnesties
What will really happen to Social Security with passage of a guest-worker plan?
Regardless of the safeguards we're assured will be taken, we've learned by now how phony those promises are. We all remember the "student visa renewals" arriving at flight schools 6 months after 9/11 for the flight student hijackers. Our SSA veteran agrees: "A lot of what happens - will be determined by the legislation, BUT you can be sure that whatever is written - SSA's bureaucracy will bend over backward to give illegals "credit" for illegal wages - with the flimsiest of evidence. In other words, - instead of insisting on solid "proof" of wages - such as pay stubs, W-2's, that clearly belong to the person, we'll receive instructions something like..... " you will accept as proof of wages, the statement of the worker that they worked for such and such, for such and such year" even if they have no 'hard evidence'."
Even if legislators require "proof," what self-respecting illegal alien can't provide "proof" of anything false they want? Based on the fraudulent documents accepted for the 1986 amnesty, SSA employers will be directed to honor earnings records on cocktail napkins and tamale wrappers. And of course, no SSA or ICE/CIS employee would dream of rejecting "proof" submitted by an illegal alien (no matter how worthless or fraudulent); that would be racially insulting and ethnically insensitive!
Moreover, every lawyer and "immigrant rights" advocate will be circling like vultures for the chance to file complaints and lawsuits if any "documentation" is rejected or any illegal alien's ludicrous demand is refused.
Why not limit ALL wage evidence to statements produced by the employer and signed by the President/CEO? That would certainly prevent later claims by employers that "low-level managers did this without the knowledge of the company's officers."
When I inquired what preventative measures SSA will take against fraud, our SSA veteran replied:
"There will be tremendous "fraud" you can be sure. Again, we'll have to see what is written into the legislation, but you can bet we'll have tolerances such as...'if there is no documentation, accept the allegation....'
"There are so many liberals within the US Govt., I'd be certain whatever the law says, ways will be found around it."
Sounds like the fast one AZ Governor Janet Napolitano tried to pull after AZ voters passed Prop 200 over her vehement objections. Late in December (probably hoping to hide in the holiday rush), "Janet" issued orders that if applicants lacked proof of citizenship, AZ would accept "written and notarized attestation statements" of citizenship. In other words, an illegal alien needed only to have someone write a statement that "I am a citizen of the US," go to a bank that accepts the Mexican matricula consular and provides notary service, sign and notarize the statement, and "Janet" would accept it.
Many Prop 200 volunteers howled in outrage and bombarded the governor's phone: "We didn't collect petition signatures in the hot Arizona sun just to have illegals swear they're US citizens." There was so much publicity that Janet knew she'd been caught red-handed trying to sabotage Prop 200. She quietly withdrew her order to replace documentary evidence of citizenship with her phony "attestations." (e)
Many Americans would ask "Won't SSA take measures to prevent such fraud?" I wouldn't bet on it. The "rule of law" has long ago been replaced by "rule of the White House" at most Executive branch departments; SSA has joined DHS, DOJ and the rest.
Remember that SSA is an Executive branch agency whose director is appointed by the President. Director Joann Barnhardt is so eager to give US Social Security benefits to Mexicans that she signed the US-Mexico Totalization Treaty in July 2004 and built an SSA building in Mexico! (b)(f)
Don't be surprised if the total of FICA wage credits exceeds the amount in the Earnings Suspense File!
A rerun of the 1986 "one-time amnesty
You certainly don't hear Ted Kennedy, Orrin Hatch or John McCain bragging that they voted for the 1986 Illegal Alien Amnesty, much less promoting acceptance of fraudulent documents. But it happened before, and our SSA veteran assures us it will happen again.
In 1986, we were promised that amnesty would be given to 300,000 illegal aliens, but the final count was nearly 3 million. Although the Bush Administration cites 11 million illegal aliens, no one stands by that number when none of the guest-worker amnesty bills contain numeric limits. Even the 2006 Bear Stearns estimate is 25-50 million. Every American knows better than to believe any information on illegal aliens that comes from George Bush or his Executive Branch buddies.
The 1986 "One-Time Amnesty" showed INS and SSA knowingly accepted massive numbers of fraudulent rent receipts, earning records and birth records. Who's foolish enough to think today's "Guest Worker Amnesty" will be different or that a pro-illegal alien Administration will suddenly crack down on phony documents?
I'm convinced that the 1986 amnesty had the same "time bomb" effect on the US Social Security system. When our payroll FICA deductions increased to the current 6.25% after the amnesty, Ronald Reagan told us it was to build up the "Baby Boomers' Trust Fund." I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now. I'm convinced it was due to demands on Social Security by newly-amnestied illegal aliens.
We don't need another FICA payroll tax increase to pay for illegal aliens. Once was enough.
© S. J. Miller, 2006. All Rights Reserved
~ About the Author ~
S. J. Miller, author of the 2005 Federal Observer series Don't be Fooled by Immigration Reform Scams , is a former veteran of the IT industry who sought another career rather than "follow the jobs" abroad, and a lifelong resident of border states, California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.
"Published originally at FederalObserver.com: republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
The S. J. Miller Archive on The Federal Observer
~ Author’s Notes ~
(a) The Secret List of ID Theft Victims - Consumers could be warned, but US government isn't talking, MSNBC, January 26 2005, ( http://www.MSNBC.msn.com/id/6814673)
(b) Social Security agreement reached with Mexico on cross border workers, San Francisco Chronicle, June 29 2004 (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/06/29/state1851EDT7420.DTL)
(c) SSA's Program Operations Manual System (POMS),
(d) Senate Finance Committee Report to HR 743, October 2003
(e) Frequently Asked Questions on Implementation of Prop 200, KPHO News, December 23 2004
(f) Bush Plan: Social Security for "Legalized" Illegal Aliens," CNSNews.Com, December 8 2005
(g) Marti Dinerstein, Social Security 'Totalization' Examining a Lopsided Agreement with Mexico, Center for Immigration Studies, Septmeber 2004
(h) Bill would ban Social Security credits for aliens who worked illegally, Chicago Tribune, August 31 2004
(j) HR 1438--No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act (full text), March 3 2005 (http://www.congress.gov)
HR1438 - No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act (Summary)