Will DACA beneficiaries be able to collect Social Security benefits?

There has been a great deal of confusion about President Obama’s recent initiative called DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  Some have called it an Amnesty and others claim in confers benefits upon illegal immigrants.  It is neither.   It is a program whereby which certain individuals will have their removal “deferred” for a period of two years.  This is it.  It is a temporary program which basically allows a certain low risk group of people to remain in the United States instead of being deported. In order to receive deferred action, applicants must be:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching 16;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Once an applicant files an application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and is granted deferred action, he or she will receive work authorization and may apply for a Social Security card.  However, “Deferred Action” is a temporary program.  It does not confer lawful permanent resident status or provide a path to citizenship.  Beneficiaries of the program will be paying Social Security taxes if they are working but they will never be able to collect any benefits as “Deferred Action” is not a legal status.  Certainly if the law changes or they are somehow able to change their status, they may later be able to use the credits from the time they worked but the program itself does not confer any sort of legal status.  They are therefore ineligible for any benefits.

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The Law Office of Geri N. Kahn assists San Francisco Bay Area residents with immigration and Social Security disability cases.
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