WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday renewed his call for increasing Social Security benefits, improving how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated and strengthening the retirement program by making top wage earners pay their fair share.
“It is time to expand Social Security, not cut it,” Sanders said in response to a new report by the trustees who oversee the program. “Millions of seniors, disabled veterans and people with disabilities are falling further and further behind on $10,000 or $11,000 a year Social Security,” he added.
The annual report said beneficiaries can expect a small 0.2 percent increase in monthly payments next year unlike this year when there was no cost-of-living increase. The trustees’ annual report also projected that the Social Security trust fund has sufficient reserves to pay all benefits through 2034.
Legislation Sanders introduced in the U.S. Senate would expand Social Security benefits and extend the life of the program for 58 years. Sanders’ bill would lift the cap on taxable Social Security income and asking the very wealthy to pay more.
Sanders’ proposal calls for making the wealthiest Americans who make more than $250,000 a year pay the same share of their income into the retirement system as everyone else. Current law now caps the amount of income subject to payroll taxes at $118,500.
Under Sanders’ plan, a senior making less than $16,000 a year would see income go up by more than $1,300 a year.
The measure also would increase cost-of-living adjustments. This year, for only the third time in four decades, seniors on Social Security did not receive a cost-of-living increase. Sanders’ legislation would increase COLAs by more accurately measuring the spending patterns of seniors. Under current law, the consumer price index used to calculate annual benefit adjustments does not accurately reflect how inflation in health care costs and prescription drug prices impact seniors.
The proposal to lift the cap would raise taxes only on the wealthiest 1.5 percent of Americans.
According to the most recent estimates from the Social Security Administration, Sanders’ plan would extend the solvency of Social Security until the year 2074.
President Barack Obama, in a recent speech, said that Social Security benefits should be expanded by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
“It’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned,” Obama said in Elkhart, Indiana. “And we can start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more.”