As deficit-reduction talks continue, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today reintroduced his bill to strengthen Social Security while making it clear that budget cuts should not undermine the promise this country has made to our workers and seniors.
Begich was also pleased that Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. Together, their bills would extend the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and just adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities.
"Our seniors deserve to have the certainty of knowing that the benefits they worked hard to earn will be there when they need them. And this bill isn't just about protecting our seniors it is also about common-sense long-term fiscal planning," said Sen. Begich.
"The current debate over our federal deficit should not be used as an excuse to cut benefits or privatize Social Security, which operates off its own independent revenue stream and does not contribute to the federal deficit," said Congressman Deutch. "Social Security is fundamentally sound, and with modest adjustments, the system can continue protecting all Americans from destitution resulting from old age, an unexpected disability, or the death of a breadwinner."
How the Bill works:
* Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich's bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.
* Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual's wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich's bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program's revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.
Gaining Support from Groups:
The legislation's introduction in the 113th Congress comes just weeks after a study by the nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance confirmed that the overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats not only oppose cutting Social Security, but support lifting the cap on contributions and improving benefits.
"The Alliance for Retired Americans strongly endorses the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act. This vital bill not only protects and improves the benefits of seniors and the disabled, but also strengthens the long-term fiscal solvency of the program," said Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. "The proposal ensures long-term solvency by gradually lifting the cap on wages for high income earners. At the same time, the plan enhances benefits by applying a more accurate cost-of-living adjustment guaranteeing that seniors' benefits keep up with their daily needs."
Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, said, "Sen. Begich's and Rep. Deutch's legislation ensures that today's youngest workers can count on getting Social Security's vital but modest benefits when they retire. It also ensures that all workers and their families will continue to be protected for the foreseeable future if they become disabled or die prematurely. They achieve all of this by simply requiring the wealthiest among us to contribute at the same rate as all other workers. Their constituents and the entire nation are fortunate to have such visionary and wise leaders."