A lot has been said about the recent news reports about Puerto Ricans being arrested for Social Security Disability fraud. That investigation and those arrests were appropriate and will serve to deter others from committing such fraud in the future. Fraud hurts all of those who need those benefits.
Meanwhile, a lot has been also been reported on Puerto Ricans getting disability because they couldn’t speak English even though the commonwealth education department receives billions in federal tax dollars. That simply proves again that throwing money at a problem is not the solution. It also proves the insanity of big government.
The Social Security Administration however, has another problem. Its problem is named inequality, otherwise known as discrimination. More specifically it relates to how the SSA refuses to pay benefits or is paying lower benefits to American citizens just because they move to or live in Puerto Rico.
Allow me to explain. If you pay into Social Security all your life and retire or become disabled, you get paid by social security a full set of benefits. If you earn below a certain amount or your benefits are low you can also receive Supplemental Security Income or SSI. This is the same for working class people and the rich and the poor. It is also true in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Regardless of whether you were born in Puerto Rico or in the mainland United States if you move to Puerto Rico while on Social Security and associated programs, your benefits drop. This is just because Puerto Rico is a territory and the U.S. Congress has not made an adjustment to ensure the American citizens of Puerto Rico are treated equally with their fellow citizens virtually world wide.
A Social Security retirement recipient can move to nearly any country on the earth and get their full retirement benefits. There are a few exceptions; for example, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and the former Soviet States not including Russia. Wait, what????
So Puerto Rico, a part of the United States for more than 100 years; is listed just above North Korea when it comes to social security benefits, but Puerto Ricans are listed below Venezuela, Argentina, and Sandanista controled Nicarauga? Puerto Ricans can go to Africa with few exceptions, India, even Afghanistan; and receive full retirement benefits, but not at home?
Across from the Capital building in Puerto Rico is a very solemn memorial. A half circle black wall that lists the names of all Puerto Rican’s who have died fighting in American wars. Does their blood count for less than other Americans?
Social Security’s answer is yes. The blood of Puerto Ricns is worth far less. Despite denials, social security retirement benefits are lower for people living in Puerto Rico.
The discrimination extends to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. No one living outside the United States can receive SSI. Anyone residing in Puerto Rico and USVI can not receive SSI because despite their sacrifice and paying into the tax system both territories are considered ‘outside the US.’ Meanwhile, residents of the Northern Marianas islands CAN receive SSI even though that territory is much farther away from the U.S. mainland. How does this make sense?
Puerto Ricans also don’t automatically get Medicare part B.
The irony is that social security taxes and associated programs are the only federal income based taxes that residents in Puerto Rico are charged. That is to say they pay just like any other American, but get treated less than American’s living abroad. While many will call this a status issue and have a valid point, this is a matter of discrimination against individuals who have paid the tax and are then being shorted benefits.
Whether you support statehood, independence or continued commonwealth it is high time to demand equal treatment for all U.S. citizens residing in the American commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It is right for the federal government go after those who get benefits illegally, but isn’t it wrong to refuse to pay benefits to those who have played by the rules and paid their share of the tax burden?
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