President Obama signed into law a bill that ends Social Security payments to former Nazis.
The “No Social Security for Nazis Act” Obama signed Thursday was passed unanimously by both chambers in Congress earlier this month.
The measure closes a loophole that had allowed ex-Nazis who lied about their past when immigrating to the United States — and had been identified and deported by the Justice Department — to continue receiving Social Security and other government benefits.
News of the continued benefits was uncovered in October when The Associated Press published an expose. There are at least four living beneficiaries, including Jakob Denzinger, a former guard at Auschwitz. Denzinger, 90, lives in Croatia, where he receives approximately $1,500 a month in Social Security payments. Separately, Congress last week allocated $2.5 million to assist impoverished Holocaust survivors as part of an omnibus funding bill. Obama signed the $1.1 trillion bill Tuesday.
The Obama administration, together with Florida lawmakers Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, have been pushing for extra programs and funding to assist the survivors. The Jewish Federations of North America, which has led lobbying and fundraising to meet the needs of the survivors, praised the allocation of the funds.
“Because of this action, we will be able to continue to provide valuable services that survivors are unable to find elsewhere,” Mark Wilf, who chairs the JFNA effort on behalf of survivors, said in a statement. The Obama administration also launched a drive to recruit volunteers to assist survivors through the federal anti-poverty volunteer program, Americorps-VISTA.
According to JFNA, there are about 113,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States, of which about 25 percent live below the poverty line.