Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Social Security

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Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Social Security

Donald Trump appears to be trying to undermine people’s confidence in Social Security.  (Photo: iStock)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has released a new ad that reveals that either he doesn’t understand Social Security or he wants to galvanize opposition to Social Security. Either way, his rhetoric undermines our collective security.

In his ad, Trump wrongly attacks immigrants and refugees. Contrary to Trump’s claims, unauthorized workers do not receive Social Security. In fact, while they contribute to Social Security through their jobs, they cannot receive Social Security. Undocumented immigrants are not even eligible for means-tested welfare programs like Supplemental Security Income. There is no ambiguity or debate: They are not eligible for Social Security’s earned benefits.

Unauthorized workers have billions of dollars in Social Security contributions deducted from their pay checks each year. Social Security’s chief actuary estimates that in the last 10 years they have paid more than $100 billion into Social Security. But, under the law, they are not eligible for benefits.

Our direction

Donald Trump appears to be trying to undermine people’s confidence in Social Security. Yet, Social Security is a foundation of economic security for all of us. It pays vital benefits to tens of millions of retirees, people with disabilities and many others, including nearly one in ten American children. Indeed, Social Security is one government program that old and young, Republicans and Democrats, all overwhelmingly support.

President Eisenhower, recognizing Social Security’s enormous support, spoke of the “tiny splinter group” that opposes it. He added, “Their number is negligible, and they are stupid.”

Let’s ensure that Donald Trump understands Social Security’s value and the benefits it offers to all Americans. And let’s not allow him and others who oppose our Social Security system to hoodwink the rest of us into believing things about it that just aren’t so.

Nancy Altman

Nancy J. Altman has a thirty-five year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions. She is co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She is the author of The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) and co-author (with Eric Kingson) of Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It will Help Us All (The New Press, 2015).

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