Legislation would expand, strengthen Social Security

Editor’s note: This press statement was received June 9, 2022.

Congressman Peter DeFazio and Senator Bernie Sanders today introduced joint legislation, the Social Security Expansion Act (SSEA), to strengthen and expand Social Security for current and future generations.

“As a trained gerontologist, I have devoted my career to protecting and expanding programs that are vital to seniors. One of my highest priorities is protecting Social Security, which millions of Americans rely on, including hundreds of thousands of Oregonians” said Rep. DeFazio (D-OR). “This legislation would ensure that the Social Security Trust Fund remains solvent for another 75 years, increase monthly benefits for most recipients by $200, and alter the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) formula to meet the everyday needs of our nation’s seniors.”

“At a time when half of older Americans have no retirement savings and millions of senior citizens are living in poverty, our job is not to cut Social Security,” said Sen. Sanders. “Our job must be to expand Social Security so that every senior citizen in America can retire with the dignity they deserve and every person with a disability can live with the security they need. And we will do that by demanding that the wealthiest people in America pay the same amount of Social Security taxes as someone making $147,000 a year. It’s time to scrap the cap, expand benefits, and fully fund Social Security. I am proud that the Social Security Administration has estimated that our legislation to expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year will fully fund Social Security for the next 75 years by applying the payroll tax on all income – including capital gains – above $250,000 a year.”

“Enactment of the Social Security Expansion Act would provide positive proof that Congress takes Social Security seriously and can work together to strengthen and improve this program that is so important to Americans’ economic wellbeing – without privatization or benefit cuts,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare  

The Social Security Expansion Act would:

Extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund 75 years, through 2096, by lifting the income tax cap and subject all income above $250,000 to the Social Security Payroll tax. Under this bill, more than 93 percent of households would not see their taxes go up by one penny.

Expand Social Security benefits by $200 across-the-board for current and new beneficiaries.

Increase Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs). This bill would more accurately measure spending patterns of seniors by adopting the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which would change the formula to reflect what seniors spend a disproportionate amount of their income on such as health care and prescription drugs.

Require millionaires and billionaires to pay more into Social Security. Currently, workers have 12.4 percent taken out of each paycheck and contributed to the Trust Fund, half paid by the employer and half by the worker. This bill would require the wealthy pay the same 12.4 percent on their investments and business income by increasing the net investment income tax by 12.4 percent and applying it to certain business income not already covered by payroll taxes.

Improve the Special Minimum Benefit for Social Security recipients. This bill will help low-income workers stay out of poverty by updating and increasing the Special Minimum Benefit and indexing the benefit level so that it is equal to 125 percent of the poverty line or about $17,000 for a single worker who had worked their full career.

Restore student benefits up to age 22 for children of disabled or deceased workers, if the child is a full-time student in a college or vocational school. This legislation restores student benefits to help educate children of deceased or disabled parents (these benefits were eliminated in 1983).

Combine the Disability Insurance Trust Fund with the Old Age and Survivors Trust fund to help senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

For a fact sheet on the Social Security Expansion Act, visit https://bit.ly/3Oqbytg.