Savage Nation guest host Rick Roberts claimed of immigrants: "[P]eople are collecting SSI [Supplemental Security Income] checks that have never paid into it." However, according to the Social Security Administration website, only people legally present in the United States can receive SSI, and most legal immigrants must earn $42,000 before becoming eligible.
During the September 22 broadcast of The Savage Nation, guest host Rick Roberts stated, "I'm sure people are collecting SSI [Supplemental Security Income] checks that have never paid into it. As a matter of fact, I know that, I've done an investigation on it -- people who aren't U.S. citizens." Roberts did not specify whether he was talking about legal or undocumented immigrants. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration website, only people legally present in the United States are allowed to receive SSI -- a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration to "pay monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older" -- and most legal immigrants must have earned $42,000 before becoming eligible for SSI.
Roberts also did not explain what he meant by "pa[ying] into it." SSI is funded through general U.S. Treasury funds, not Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes. According to the Social Security Administration website, all legal immigrants who came to the United States after August 22, 1996, must have earned "40 credits of work" and generally cannot receive SSI benefits for at least five years after immigrating. According to the SSA website, in 2008 a credit consists of $1,050 of earnings, and "[e]ach year the amount of earnings needed for credits goes up slightly as average earnings levels increase." This means that most legal immigrants who came to the United States after August 22, 1996, must earn $42,000 before becoming eligible for SSI.
Talk Radio Network, which syndicates Michael Savage's show, claims that the show is heard on more than 350 radio stations. The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
From the September 22 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:
CALLER: How do you think a congressman or a senator is gonna go to the Congress or the Senate -- and he might be worth $200,000 when he gets there -- four, six years later, he's a multimillionaire?
ROBERTS: Well, you're right. You know, Michael has said it time and time and time again -- you know, everybody wants to stay away from illegal immigration -- the illegal immigration -- it's a presidential election cycle, no politician wants to touch that for fear of offending a potential voting bloc. The government has lost contact with reality. I'll say it again: The government has lost contact with reality. The government wants to serve the world on the backs of the American people. It's gotta stop. It's gotta stop. We have no business bailing anyone out -- sending money to other countries in the financial state this country is in is financial suicide. The American people can't keep paying for what the government wants.
You know, I've got two kids. My son may want a brand new $60,000 truck. Guess what? He's not getting it unless he can come up with the money on his own, and I'm pretty sure he can't. Some people can't afford to buy a house, very few of them in that case can even afford a place to rent. That doesn't leave much room for a life. The government stole from Social Security, so now it's almost bankrupt. I'm sure people are collecting SSI checks that have never paid into it. As a matter of fact, I know that, I've done an investigation on it -- people who aren't U.S. citizens.