New Social Security Legislation Introduced

February 19, 2019

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On Feb. 14, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the “Expand Social Security Act,” legislation that would expand benefits and add almost 50 years of solvency to the program. Social Security, in its current form, is paying out more money to recipients than it takes in, and will no longer be able to pay out full benefits by 2034.

This looming problem is due to the cap on payroll taxes at $132,900, meaning each person only pays the 12.4 percent Social Security tax up to that amount, no matter how much income they earn. The vast majority of workers pay the full 12.4 percent on most of their income – Jeff Bezos, by comparison, pays about .00028 percent of his income.

Sen. Sanders’s bill, first introduced in the Senate in 2017, would remove this cap, and require those making over $250,000 per year to pay full Social Security taxes. The bill also includes a new 6.2 percent tax on single people with investment income above $200,000 and couples above $250,000.

In addition to keeping Social Security fully solvent, the bill would increase benefits for all Social Security recipients, provide higher cost-of-living and prescription drug cost adjustments, and provide an additional $1,300 per year to low income seniors. The bill would also allow children of those with disabilities to receive benefits until they turn 22, provided they are in school full time – a four-year difference from current law.

Sen. Sanders’s bill is cosponsored by multiple 2020 Democratic candidates, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker. It also shares many similarities with a similar bill – the Social Security 2100 Act – introduced in the House by Rep. John Larson (D-CT-1) last month. That bill raises payroll taxes for everyone, but removes the income cap at $400,000. That bill, co-sponsored by 203 other congresspeople, would keep Social Security solvent until 2092.

“The APWU wholeheartedly supports the strengthening and expansion of Social Security benefits,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “It would be good for all working folks including for postal workers who are now mostly covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) of which Social Security is a core component.”

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