Florida Man, 66, Finds Out He’s Not a U.S. Citizen After Being Denied Social Security: ‘I’m Overwhelmed’

A 66-year-old Florida man found out he wasn’t a United States citizen after being denied access to his social security retirement benefits.

James R. Klass, also known as Jimmy, was brought to the U.S. from Canada at 2 years old and has been living in the country ever since.

“I feel that they’re robbing me,” Klass tells PEOPLE about the government’s handling of his situation. “Here’s [a] person that’s been here 64 years, and I’ve paid [for it], you know what I mean?”

He was made aware of his lack of citizenship after he applied for access to his Social Security retirement benefits. Klass’ mother was Canadian but his father was born in the U.S. and raised in New York, CBS affiliate WKMG and ABC affiliate WFTS-TV previously reported.

“One month, they told me I should expect my first check on the second Wednesday of 2020,” Klass told WFTS-TV. “But instead, I get a letter stating that I haven’t proven to them that I’m here legally.”

Klass, who was even accepted into the Marine Corps and the state police, tells PEOPLE that he had never had issues or questions regarding his citizenship until he applied for his Social Security Benefits.

“I don’t have the documents from the Marines, but I have the documents from the state police, and the only thing they ever requested was my driver’s license and my social security card, proof of citizenship, and proof of who I am,” he says.

He also says that he had previously voted in elections. “Evidently illegally now,” he quips.

Additionally, he had Medicare “for over a year and a half,” KFTS-TV reported.

A representative with the Social Security Administration did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

According to WKMG, Klass has now gone back to work after “spending thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars” to gain access to his social security funds.

“I even said to them, ‘Well, if you’re not gonna pay me monthly, give me everything that I paid with interest, and we’ll call it a day,’ ” Klass recalled to WKMG. “And they go, ‘Oh, we can’t do that, either.’ I said, ‘Well, what can you do?’ ”

Klass has since created a GoFundMe page to replenish his savings. In the description, he shares that he hired attorneys, a genealogist, and retrieved documents for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As of Friday, May 17, the fundraiser has raised more than $1,500 out of the $10,000 goal.

“As I am getting older and not collecting what I am do it’s becoming a financial burden and before I lose my home I am looking for charitable assistance any help would be greatly appreciated,” he wrote in the fundraiser description.

USCIS claimed in a 2022 letter that Klass didn’t have enough evidence to prove his father’s residence in the U.S. prior to his birth, per KFTS-TV. The law requires the U.S. citizen parent to live in the country for 10 years before the birth of the child in order for the child to obtain citizenship.

In response, Klass reached out to Senator Marco Rubio’s office for assistance. The genealogist hired by Klass later found records linking his father to the U.S. in the required timeframe.

Klass tells PEOPLE that the only new developments so far in his case have been attention from the news media and other attorneys contacting him. He says that he has been in touch with an investigative reporter based in Orlando who has congressional contacts. Klass also adds that he has not heard from the Social Security Administration in the wake of the publicity surrounding the case.

“I’m overwhelmed very much so,” Klass says, “My anxiety level is through the roof. I’m just looking to get some [resolution].”

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