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Courtney, Larson Introduce Landmark Social Security Bill

Submitted by Patrick Cassidy.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) joined House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (CT-01) to introduce Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust—a landmark bill to rescue the Social Security safety net program. The new bill would immediately increase Social Security benefits for American senior citizens, and would strengthen the Social Security trust fund to avoid a devastating 20% cut to benefits projected to take place in 2034 unless Congress takes action. Rep. Courtney has worked alongside Rep. Larson for years on efforts to strengthen and secure Social Security, and today joined Reps. James Clyburn (SC-06), Richie Neal (MA-01), and nearly 200 others in becoming a co-sponsor of Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust.

“There isn’t a member of Congress more focused on fighting for American seniors than Rep. John Larson. Overhauling a core program like Social Security is a monumental challenge, but John has never stopped working closely with economists and seniors to get the job done—he’s become the go-to leader on fixing Social Security for American seniors, and we’re very lucky in Connecticut to have him fighting for our communities,” said Congressman Courtney. “No Social Security beneficiary should receive a below-poverty level check each month, especially not after paying into the program over the course of their working lives. Between seniors, veterans, children and other Americans, over 150,000 people in eastern Connecticut are relying on Social Security each month. Our bill would give them a much-needed boost in benefits, and extend the solvency of the program to ensure future generations won’t get short-changed. Proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bill.”

“Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust will expand benefits and strengthen Social Security. The pandemic has only underscored what we already knew and has exacerbated systemic inequities — current benefits are not enough! 5 million seniors are living in poverty due to longstanding discrimination in the labor force that affects mostly people of color and women. These are our sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and neighbors. For too long, Congress has forsaken its duty to enhance benefits. With 10,000 Baby Boomers a day becoming eligible, and with Millennials needing Social Security more than any generation, the time for Congress to act is now,” said House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (CT-01).

“In America, millions of Social Security beneficiaries are having to make the choice between food and medicine on a daily basis. This is unacceptable in the richest and greatest country in the world,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Black American, Hispanic American and Asian American Social Security beneficiaries were disproportionately affected during the pandemic, exacerbating that inequality. A recent poll indicated that our nation’s seniors voted in the last election with the hope and expectation of seeing improvements to the Social Security benefits they have earned. Voters will remember this when they vote. The Alliance for Retired Americans 100% supports Representative Larson’s bill, ‘Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust.’

“Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is pleased to support the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, which would make significant improvements in the Social Security benefits that millions of veterans with disabilities and their families rely on,” said Shaun Castle, Deputy Executive Director. “As a veterans service organization representing veterans with significant disabilities, PVA is keenly aware of the critical role Social Security plays in the lives of our members and their families and we urge swift action on this critical legislation.”

Specifically, Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust would:

Increase Benefits for American Senior Citizens 

  • Benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries – Provides an increase for all beneficiaries that is equivalent to about 2% of the average benefit. The US faces a retirement crisis and a modest boost in benefits strengthens the one leg of the retirement system that is universal and the most reliable.
  • Protection against inflation – Improves the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors through adopting a CPI-E formula. This provision will help seniors who spend a greater portion of their income on health care and other necessities. Improved inflation protection will especially help older retirees and widows who are more likely to rely on Social Security benefits as they age.
  • Protects low-income workers – No one who paid into the system over a lifetime should retire into poverty. The new minimum benefit will be set at 25% above the poverty line and would be tied to wage levels to ensure that the minimum benefit does not fall behind.
  • Improves benefits for widows and widowers in two income household.
  • Repeals the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) that currently penalize many public servants.
  • Ends the 5-month waiting period to receive disability benefits.
  • Provides caregiver credits to ensure that caregivers are not penalized in retirement for taking time out of the workforce to care for children or other dependents.
  • Extends dependent benefits for students through age 26 and includes part-time students.
  • Increases access to benefits for children who live with grandparents or other relatives.

Strengthen the Social Security Trust Fund

  • Have millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everyone else – Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $142,800. This legislation would apply the payroll tax to wages above $400,000. This provision would only affect the top 0.4% of wage earners.
  • Extends the depletion date (when a 20% cut to benefits would occur) to 2038 – Giving Congress more time to ensure long term solvency of the Trust Funds.
  • Establishes the Social Security Trust Fund – Social Security provides all-in-one retirement, survivor, and disability benefits funded through the dedicated FICA contribution paid by workers. There are technically two trust funds, Old-Age and Survivors (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI), that are usually referred to as the Social Security Trust Fund. This provision combines the OASI & DI trust funds into one Social Security Trust Fund, to ensure that all benefits will be paid.

As of today, Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust has been endorsed by more than thirty organizations representing the health and economic interests of American senior citizens, retirees, and Social Security beneficiaries. Endorsing groups include: the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, Social Security Works, Alliance for Retired Americans, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Latinos for Secure Retirement, the National Education Association (NEA), AFGE, the American Federation of Teachers, The Arc of the United States, Justice in Aging, the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN), the Economic Opportunity Institute, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), The Senior Citizens League, Public Citizen, the National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR), the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), and more.

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