Can it really be? Is it possible? Could Congress actually consider providing additional benefits, adding costs and liabilities to a program it has failed to financially manage for thirty years, a program facing funding shortfalls?
Apparently so … although chances of this going anywhere is unlikely, but it’s the (irresponsible) thought that counts.
The recent Social Security COLA announcement served as a backdrop for the introduction of a new bill to permanently adjust the cost-of-living formula, repeal the controversial Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and provide a benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries.
Congressman John Larson Congressman John B. Larson, D-Conn., said he will introduce Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust this week on the heels of last week’s news that the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) will be 5.9% for 2022, the highest increase in 40 years.
“While this year’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is welcome news, it only further underscores the need for Congress to act on Social Security,” Larson said in a statement. “It has been more than 50 years since Congress has improved Social Security benefits.
Seniors are suffering—five million are living below the poverty line—current Social Security benefits are not enough!” Larson claimed Congress has failed seniors, the situation needs to change and the “time is now to enhance Social Security.”
[Larson should look at the data before generalizing. Most seniors are doing quite well]
According to the bill’s fact sheet, there are several significant—and some controversial—provisions: Benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries
It 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,” it notes.
Protection against inflation It 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,” Larson said, and therefore 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.
Improved benefits for widows And also, widowers in two-income households.
Repeals the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) One of the more controversial provisions will eliminate WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
Ends the Waiting Period The five-month wait will no longer apply to receive disability benefits.
Provides caregiver credits It will ensure that “caregivers are not penalized in retirement for taking time out of the workforce to care for children or other dependents.”
Student benefits Extends benefits for students through age 22.
Increases access It will increase access to benefits for children who live with grandparents or other relatives.