Comparison of refugees, social security payments are outdated and inflated

As Afghan refugees arrive in the United States and other countries to start new lives, some social media users have relaunched an outdated comparison to suggest that the United States spends more on benefits for refugees than on beneficiaries. social security.

A Instagram post of September 26 featured a 2019 tweet by Charlie Kirk, Founder and President of Turning Point USA, who wrote:

“The government provides $ 2,125 / month in allowances to resettled refugees in the United States. Meanwhile, Social Security recipients who have contributed to the system their entire lives receive an average of $ 1,400 / month. When are we going to put the Americans first? “

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and disinformation on its news feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

This comparison is based on outdated figures.

Kirk’s spokesperson Andrew Kolvet told us that Kirk relied on a 2018 PolitiFact article that assessed similar claims for asylum benefits. But the figure of $ 2,125 did not refer to a monthly payment to directly help refugees. He was referring to a one-time grant to resettlement agencies for each refugee, part of which can be used to fund housing and basic necessities during the refugees’ first months in the United States.

The average Social Security retirement benefit was accurate when the tweet was first posted, but the amount is higher now.

Refugee status and benefits

The refugee is a legal status for people who come to the United States because they are fleeing wars or persecutions in their homeland. To stay, refugees must apply for permanent resident status one year after arrival. Many do not speak English and are unfamiliar with American culture and standards upon arrival. So the United States is offering temporary help to help them adjust.

Refugees who obtain resettlement through the State Department Reception and placement program are sponsored by a non-profit resettlement agency and receive essential housing, food and other essentials.

A one-time payment of $ 2,275 per refugee is currently made to resettlement agencies, the State Department told us.

The agency can use $ 1,225 of the payment for direct assistance for basic needs, such as accommodation, food, clothing, and furniture for the refugee’s first 30 to 90 days in the United States.

The rest of the money helps resettlement agencies provide case management services and cultural orientation, and connect eligible refugees with employment services and English classes.

Refugees only receive the $ 1,225 directly in the rare event that they have family or friends who can provide housing and other basic needs. That’s the total amount available, and it’s not a monthly payment, the State Department said.

After these first months, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the United States Department of Health and Human Services works with states and other non-governmental organizations to provide further financial assistance in the form of financial assistance to refugees and d medical assistance to refugees, as well as services.

But this is also time-limited: money and medical assistance are available for eligible refugees. up to eight months from their date of arrival.

HHS did not tell us how much refugees receive per month under US programs. A spokesperson for the ministry told PolitiFact in a previous article that the amount and type of federal assistance provided to refugees during their eligibility period can vary widely. Cash and medical assistance, for example, are managed at the state level, and cost-sharing amounts differ from state to state.

Social security benefits

Social Security beneficiaries include both retirees and people with disabilities. Children can also collect social security benefits on a parent’s income record, according to AARP.

Kirk’s tweet used $ 1,400 to refer to retirement benefits, which is lower than what beneficiaries are currently receiving.

The average retirement benefit is $ 1,555 per month, said Darren Lutz, spokesperson for the Social Security Administration.

The average disability benefit in 2021 is $ 1,280 per month. Some people receive both benefits.

Social security administration noted benefits will increase by 1.3% in 2021 for all beneficiaries, or about 70 million Americans.

Our decision

An Instagram post shared a tweet from 2019 which claimed that the US government paid “$ 2,125 / month in allowances to refugees resettled in the United States”, while Social Security recipients “who have contributed to the system their entire lives receive an average of $ 1,400 / month. . “

These figures are not correct. The average Social Security retirement benefit is higher at $ 1,555 per month.

The biggest mistake is spending for refugees. The Department of State makes a one-time payment of $ 2,275 to resettlement agencies for each refugee, of which $ 1,225 is available for agencies to use for basic refugee needs during their first 30 to 90 days in the United States. . It is not a monthly payment, as the request says. Refugees may receive additional assistance from other US programs, but it is temporary.

With only a hint of truth, we rate this claim as primarily false.

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