WASHINGTON — Former Nazis should not be collecting Social Security benefits as they age overseas, the White House said Monday, responding to an Associated Press investigation that revealed millions of dollars have been paid to war-crimes suspects and former SS guards forced out of the U.S.
“Our position is we don’t believe these individuals should be getting these benefits,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters in Chicago.
He did not say whether or how the government might end the payments. AP reported Sunday that dozens of Nazi suspects collected benefits after leaving the United States.
The payments flowed through a legal loophole that gave the Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave.
If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal U.S. government records.
The White House comments came after a senior House Democrat demanded the Obama administration investigate the benefit payments. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York requested the inquiry on Monday in letters to the inspectors general at the Justice Department and Social Security Administration.
Maloney, a high-ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called the payments a “gross misuse of taxpayer dollars” and said she plans to introduce legislation to close the loophole.
The Justice Department said it was reviewing Maloney’s letter. The Social Security Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and previously refused to disclose the total number of Nazi suspects who received benefits and the dollar amounts.