Under President Obama's new program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, many of those affected will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and a wide array of other federal benefits, a White House official confirmed.
In his speech on Thursday night, the president touted his plan as a means of bringing accountability to a broken system.
"We’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or [legal] residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation," he said. "You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law."
For those who work, that includes payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, because they are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. They are usually split between employer and employee and include 12.4 percent collected to pay for Social Security, as well as 2.9 percent to pay for Medicare.
Current federal law holds that people who pay those taxes and are deemed "lawfully present" in the United States can collect benefits under those programs when they become eligible. They may also receive survivors and disability benefits.
"If they pay in, they can draw," White House spokesman Shawn Turner said by email.
He noted, however, that the estimated 5 million immigrants granted protection from deportation will not be eligible for other federal benefits, such as student financial aid, food stamps and housing subsidies. Nor are they eligible to purchase health insurance through the federal health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act.