Senator Brian Schatz
722 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Schatz:
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to endorse your legislation, the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act of 2023 (SAFE Social Security Act). The National Committee commends you for introducing this legislation, which updates and modernizes Social Security benefits and extends the solvency of the Social Security Trust Funds for decades to come.
Your legislation should give all Americans confidence that Social Security will be there for them when they need it, a peace of mind that has been undermined by those who have falsely asserted that the only way to assure the programs’ future is by privatizing it or cutting benefits. Relieving Americans’ anxiety about Social Security’s future is extremely important at a time when few workers are covered by private pensions and stagnant wages have made it increasingly difficult for the average family to set money aside for retirement. Social Security has become the cornerstone of Americans’ retirement; more than half of seniors receive over half of their income from Social Security, and it provides at least 90 percent of income for more than one-in-five seniors. Without Social Security, almost 40 percent of American seniors would live in poverty.
In addition to extending the program’s solvency, your bill provides essential benefit enhancements that are long overdue. These include:
- Increasing benefits across the board by an average monthly amount of $125 ($1,500 annually) and providing a new minimum benefit that would guarantee all beneficiaries have incomes at least 25 percent above the federal poverty line;
- Adopting the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) for the purpose of determining cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), to more accurately reflect the inflation faced by most seniors and the disabled;
- Improving benefits of most importance to women by providing those who take time out of the workforce for caregiving special credit toward their benefit calculations, and providing a 5 percent increase in benefits for older seniors receiving benefits for 20 years, beneficiaries more likely to be women because of their longer life expectancy;
- Eliminating the current waiting period for disability insurance and surviving spousal benefits.
The SAFE Social Security Act strengthens Social Security’s financial foundations by increasing revenue dedicated to support the program. First, your bill eliminates the current cap on Social Security taxes, thus subjecting all earned income to FICA contributions. The bill also provides that the additional Social Security taxable wages stemming from this provision will be taken into account in determining workers’ benefits, which we believe is an important element of your bill.
The second revenue measure would modify the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) by increasing the tax by 5.7 percent and depositing the additional revenue into the Social Security Trust Funds. Like the previous provision, this modification also better reflects the evolution of income for our nation’s workforce, as higher-income workers receive increasingly smaller portions of their income from wages. While we generally support this modernization, we believe providing additional Social Security benefits for the enhanced contributions would better preserve the earned nature of the Social Security program.
On behalf of our members and supporters, the National Committee is pleased to endorse the SAFE Social Security Act. The bill represents a very positive strengthening and enhancement of Social Security on behalf of current and future beneficiaries. We look forward to working with you to advance this important legislation.
President and CEO