Today, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) introduced the Social Security Enhancement and Protection Act. This legislation seeks to improve Social Security coverage for women, people of color, and low-income Americans and improve revenue for the program.
"There is broad agreement that we need to take steps to improve the fiscal outlook for Social Security," said Rep. Moore. "However, in addition to extending the solvency of the system, we must improve it so it works better for vulnerable populations, including women, people of color, and low-income people. My legislation would enhance benefits and help us ensure that Social Security does what it was intended to do -- ensure that all Americans are not at risk of living in poverty."
Congresswoman Moore's draft bill would improve Social Security coverage/benefits for women, people of color, and low-income people in three key ways:
* Updating the Special Minimum Benefit to 100 percent of poverty: People who have had low-wage jobs for their whole lives are more financially at risk when they reach retirement. Rep. Moore's legislation would increase the Special Minimum Benefit to pay 100 percent of the poverty threshold for those who have worked 30 years under Social Security.
* Increasing benefits 20 years after becoming eligible for retirement. People who live beyond the age of 85 are more likely to be financially vulnerable, even with Social Security. Rep. Moore's legislation would provide additional security by increasing benefits for all beneficiaries 20 years after retirement by a uniform amount equal to 5 percent of the average retired worker benefit in the prior year.
* Reinstating the student benefit. Social Security benefits are paid to children whose working parent has died, become disabled, or retired. Currently, these benefits are paid until age 18--but from 1965 to 1981, students were eligible to receive those benefits until age 22 if they were enrolled in college or vocational schools. The Congresswoman's bill would restore the student benefit for children of deceased and disabled workers up to age 22.
Congresswoman Moore's legislation would pay for these reforms by eliminating the cap on Social Security payroll contribution and gradually raising the Social Security contribution rate for employers and employees each by 1/20 of 1 percent a year or approximately .50 cents a week. These revenue proposals would also allow us to extend the solvency of Social Security well beyond 2033, the year in which Trust Fund reserve depletion is expected under current law, to 2068--an additional 35 years.