Does Immigration Hurt or Help Social Security?

Another factor that often gets a finger pointed at it by critics is immigration — more specifically, undocumented workers. Peruse social media and, among the fictitious claims that the government raided Social Security, you’re bound to find comments claiming that Social Security is being hurt by legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

But is this the case? Let’s have a closer look.

Undocumented workers, by law, can’t qualify for a Social Security number and therefore are ineligible for a retired worker benefit, as well as disability and survivor’s insurance protection. Unless migrants are on a legal path to citizenship and earning lifetime work credits, they won’t qualify for a benefit from either the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust or the Disability Insurance Trust.

However, this doesn’t mean undocumented workers aren’t contributing in some way to the Social Security program. According to AARP, approximately $12 billion in payroll tax revenue (from either the workers or their employers) was collected in 2010 from undocumented migrants.

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