DON’T DECREASE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS… INCREASE THEMMay 7th, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare
A Plan for Increasing Social Security Benefits
Plans are beginning to surface for increasing Social Security benefits. Many pensions have been blown to smithereens in the past five years. Retirement plans have been decimated. Social Security is the only option left for millions of Americans when they retire. This issue is one of the top concerns of seniors everywhere. Some are suggesting that increasing Social Security benefits will provide an answer for those millions.
Senator Tom Harkin created a Rebuild America Act, in which he proposes a tax increase that will fund an across the board increase in Social Security benefits while completely eliminating any Social Security deficit until after 2050. Michael Hiltzik wrote an editorial in the LA Times about this issue in which he said, “Social Security’s actuaries calculate that the tax increase in Harkin’s measure, to be phased in over a decade, would virtually eliminate any Social Security deficit until mid-century while paying for an across-the-board monthly benefit raise of $65 after 10 years.” (LA Times, April 25, 2012)
Inequities in Social Security Need to be Addressed
Social Security is currently providing benefits to 55 million people. Hiltzik says
“That testifies to the reach of a program that keeps 20 million Americans out of poverty and helps stabilize the economy by putting money into the hands of people who will spend it on goods and services. And it points to the best way to improve Social Security’s value for all Americans: by increasing benefits to better serve the neediest workers, and expanding its reach to cover workers and dependents who have been cheated by or excluded from the system for far too long.” (LA Times, April 25, 2012)
Hiltzik also points out the inequity in Social Security benefits for women. Women typically only work an average of 27 years in the workforce, on which Social Security benefits are based. Benefits are actually paid on the best wages in a 35 year period for an employee. Women get cheated out of benefits because they spend time caregiving, usually for their children, but also for aging parents and disabled family members. If a caregiving benefit were added to Social Security, women would receive benefits based on their caregiving years as well as years in the workforce.
SCJ continues to advocate for improving Social Security benefits to be paid for by eliminating the payroll tax ceiling, which is $110,100 for 2012. It’s a simple solution. It’s just fair.