Florida retiree can’t claim Social Security benefits after discovering he’s not a US citizen 60 years later

Florida retiree can't claim Social Security benefits after discovering he's not a US citizen 60 years later

Florida retiree can’t claim Social Security benefits after discovering he’s not a US citizen 60 years later

He lived a full life in the U.S. He went to school, worked in law enforcement, got married, raised a family, paid taxes and voted.

But in 2020, as Klass prepared to live out his retirement in Clearwater, Florida, one of the perks of a post-work life he thought he had earned was suddenly taken away.

Don’t miss out

Klass received a shocking letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) saying he would not be sent the $1,649.90 monthly pension benefits he was previously approved for because he is not actually a US citizen .

I was just blindsided, he told ABC Action News Tampa Bay. Here’s how this unusual mix happened.

‘too much trouble’

Klass was born in Canada. His mother was Canadian and his father was American, born and raised in New York. The family moved to the US in 1959 and Klass has lived in the country ever since believing he was a dual citizen.

He told the news station that his roots were never questioned when he provided critical pieces of identification, including his Social Security card, driver’s license and voter registration card. He was commissioned to serve as a Marine in the US Army and later worked for the New Jersey State Police. He says his citizenship status has not been questioned.

I’ve been voting for over 40 years, he laughed, adding: I think I’m in a lot of trouble.

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After working in the US and contributing payroll taxes (which are used to fund Social Security), Klass thought everything was as it should be when she received a letter from the SSA in 2019 saying she was eligible for retirement benefits and his first monthly payment. of $1,649.90 would occur on the second Wednesday of January 2020.

But he never received a dime and instead received a letter disputing his right to pension benefits.

After learning of his status, Klass formally applied for U.S. citizenship, but was denied due to a lack of evidence that his father was present in the country for 10 years before his birth, according to Action News. Since then, Klass has enlisted the help of an immigration attorney and genealogist to help him fight for citizenship and get the benefits he feels he is owed.

I worked my 50 years and paid social security. They should pay me, he said.

Government returns

Cases like Klass don’t come along every day, according to Fort Myers-based immigration attorney Indera Demine.

She told Action News it’s unclear how Klass made it this far without his citizenship being questioned.

For many years, the change [government] the agencies haven’t necessarily communicated with each other, she said. The documentation you need to renew your driver’s license or Social Security benefits was not as strict as it is now.

Klass is far from alone in fighting the SSA to get or keep Social Security benefits. In recent years, the agency has begun returning billions of dollars in overpayments through notifications to about a million Americans each year.

According to KFF Health News, the SSA has admitted in the past that many overpayments were the result of mistakes by the government rather than the often elderly, poor or disabled people receiving the extra money.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. Offered without warranty of any kind.

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