The Honorable Bernie Sanders
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Sanders:
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 “Social Security Expansion Act.” The National Committee commends you for introducing this legislation, which ensures solvency for both the Old-Age and Survivors (OASI) and the Disability Insurance (DI) Social Security Trust Funds.
Your legislation should give all Americans confidence that Social Security will be there for them when they need it, whether they apply for retirement or disability benefits. Moreover, it achieves this while at the same time making important updates to the benefits Social Security provides.
Included in the “Social Security Expansion Act” are the following benefit improvements:
- A boost in Social Security benefits of about $200 a month for most beneficiaries. This provision would apply to both current and new beneficiaries and would become fully effective upon the bill’s enactment.
- Adoption of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) for the purpose of determining cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries. This change better reflects the costs of the goods and services most purchased by seniors.
- An increase in the special minimum benefit so that it equals up to 125 percent of the poverty level, or about $17,000 for an individual worker with a full career of earnings. This benefit would be indexed in future years.
- Restoring benefits to age 22 for children of deceased or disabled workers who are full-time students.
- Combining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund with the Old-Age and Survivors Trust Fund to help senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Social Security has been a bedrock program protecting the financial security of American workers in the case of retirement, disability or death. However, the last major Social Security reform was almost four decades ago and the value of some of its benefits has eroded over the years. We believe it is well past time for the program to be updated to meet the needs of today’s workers and beneficiaries and the “Social Security Expansion Act” makes a significant move in that direction.
The “Social Security Expansion Act” strengthens Social Security’s financial foundations by increasing revenue dedicated to support the program. First, it extends the payroll tax to all wages paid to workers that are in excess of $250,000. Over time, this provision would completely eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. While the National Committee supports this provision, we believe it could be improved by providing that the additional Social Security taxable wages stemming from it be taken into account in determining workers’ benefits.
The second revenue measure would subject an individual’s unearned income above $250,000 to a tax of 12.4 percent. This is the same Social Security tax rate that applies to most earned income (when worker and employer contributions are combined) and would provide an important new stream of revenue that would help strengthen Americans’ confidence that Social Security will be there for them in years to come. This provision 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. As with the previous provision, we believe providing additional Social Security benefits for the enhanced contributions would better preserve the earned nature of the Social Security program.
The National Committee generally supports the provisions included in your bill and proudly endorses the “Social Security Expansion Act.” This bill represents a bold and forceful step on behalf of seniors and all Americans by strengthening and safeguarding Social Security for future beneficiaries while at the same time making important improvements in the adequacy of the benefits the program provides. We look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation.
President and CEO