By Francis Taylor, Executive Editor
In June, INGLEWOOD TODAY reported that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Social Security Expansion Act was reintroduced in Congress, but the measure has remained dormant until now when a renewed interest, among from fellow lawmakers pushing the initiative, has emerged amid proposed cuts to Social Security as the U.S. faces its latest debt ceiling crisis.
Under terms of the original bill, anyone who is a current Social Security recipient, or who will turn 62 in 2023, would receive an extra $200 in each monthly check, or an additional $2,400 a year in benefits if the bill wins approval. The latest draft of the bill also provides a way forward for the severely underfunded program, ensuring that future generations can receive benefits through 2096 by taxing the highest earners in the country. According to Sanders’ office, this will be done “all without raising taxes by one penny on over 93% of American households that make $250,000 or less.”
“At a time when nearly half of older Americans have no retirement savings and almost 50% of our nation’s seniors are trying to survive on an income of less than $25,000 a year, our job is not to cut Social Security,” Sanders said in the statement.
“Our job is to expand Social Security so that every senior in America can retire with the dignity that they deserve and every person with a disability can live with the security they need. The legislation that we are introducing today will expand Social Security benefits by $2,400 a year and will extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years by making sure that the wealthiest people in our society pay their fair share into the system. Right now, a Wall Street CEO who makes $30 million pays the same amount into Social Security as someone who makes $160,000 a year. Our bill puts an end to that absurdity which will allow us to protect Social Security for generations to come while lifting millions of seniors out of poverty,” Sanders said.
As House Republicans try to use a manufactured debt ceiling crisis to cut the Social Security that Americans have earned, Sanders is working to expand Social Security and extend its solvency by making the wealthy pay their fair share, so everyone can retire with dignity.
The Social Security Expansion Act bill is timely for a couple of reasons. First, it follows a Social Security Administration announcement in 2022 that Americans will stop receiving their full benefits in about 13 years without actions to bolster the program.
It also comes during a period of historically high inflation that has a particularly big impact on seniors living on fixed incomes, many of whom rely solely on Social Security payments. According to the press release from Senator Sanders’ office: “Nearly 40 percent of seniors rely on Social Security for a majority of their income; one in seven rely on it for more than 90 percent of their income; and nearly half of Americans aged 55 and older have no retirement savings at all.”
The new bill aims to ease the financial strain by boosting each recipient’s monthly check. The average monthly Social Security check was about $1,658 as of Dec. 2022, meaning a $200 increase would represent a 12% boost.
In addition to Sanders, there are additional Congresspeople supporting the Social Security Expansion Act and more than 50 organizations have also endorsed the bill.