Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with Finance Committee members Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Penn., today introduced a bill to lift seniors out of poverty and increase their standard of living. The "Elder Poverty Relief Act" would increase earned benefits for vulnerable Americans who count on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for their basic needs.
"Too many seniors are walking on an economic tightrope, balancing their food bill against their rent against their utility bill," Wyden said. "It's time to update Social Security's guarantee of a secure retirement by boosting earned benefits for at-risk seniors, particular older women who live longer and have less access to savings."
"With stagnating wages, the cost of living continuing to rise, and many budgets being stretched to the breaking point, expanding Social Security benefits is more important now than ever," said Brown. "No one should ever have to decide between heating their home, putting food on the table, or filling their prescriptions."
"A lifetime of hard work should not be followed by the inability to pay bills and put food on the table," Casey said. "It's time to strengthen Social Security and ensure it is able to keep its promise of a secure retirement for America's seniors."
The bill creates a new benefit for Americans over age 82, those with low monthly benefits, SSI recipients who have reached the full retirement age, and others. This earned benefit would provide an additional $85 a month to almost 14 million people, and rise over time. According to estimates from the Social Security Administration (SSA), this bill would reduce poverty among seniors who received the benefit by almost 25 percent in 2030, lifting 420,000 seniors out of poverty and putting millions more on a stronger footing.
Even after accounting for Social Security benefits, close to 1 out of every 10 seniors lives in poverty. Leading up to retirement, about 20 percent of all seniors have no money saved for retirement.
A one page summary of the bill can be found here.
The legislative text of the bill can be found here.
Supporters of the bill include: the Gray Panthers, Justice in Aging, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Social Security Works, and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition.