A Time for Action on Social Security - AMAC
President Biden and the 117th Congress will soon confront a Social Security program barreling toward financial insolvency whether either likes it or not. Life expectancy has increased by 20+ years since the program started in 1935. Biden campaign promises of increasing benefits will need a reality check, lest they further hasten Social Security’s shaky finances. The program is running a deficit and will in perpetuity and thus is relying on past reserves to meet promised benefits now and for the next several years.
AMAC believes the promise to guarantee Social Security for all Americans must be kept. Our goal since first introducing our Social Security Guarantee (SSG) eight years ago has been to preserve this important program for current and near retirees and to also modernize it for successive generations.
Our proposal has three prime directives: guarantee annual increases in benefits for all, with special attention for those with lower earnings; achieve solvency to ensure promised benefits continue uninterrupted in the future; and provide a means for all earners to have more income available at retirement with Social Security PLUS, a supplemental, voluntary companion benefit that would provide tax advantaged access to additional funds for all workers at age 62.
Social Security’s Board of Trustees issues a yearly report that has increasingly noted the precarious health of the program’s long term finances. By 2034 or 2035, full promised benefits will no longer be able to be paid. Every recipient’s monthly check will be reduced by about 23% automatically. The Covid-19 pandemic has fast forwarded the insolvency date to 2029 according to many experts, due to high unemployment and many people retiring earlier than planned. Thus, AMAC believes we cannot wait past the 2021-22 Congress to act.
AMAC has made some modest yet important changes to an earlier version of our plan to try to shore up the health of this vital program without raising payroll taxes on workers. The changes include diverting existing retirement penalty taxes into the trust fund, recalculating the Windfall Elimination Provision to be fairer to certain public employees who have also contributed to the program through work in the private sector, and certain changes in the full and maximum retirement ages to reflect the reality of greatly increased longevity. As in our previous version, the earliest retirement age remains at 62 for those who wish not to or are unable to continue working.
Our Social Security PLUS companion piece is in addition to traditional Social Security and has tremendous potential to allow workers to build significant wealth over time. Consider that a 23-year old contributing just $25 per week with a $15 employer match, with each adding just 4% annually in a mix of conservative and stock funds, would accumulate over $1 million by age 65.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have given our SSG a warm response over the past several years, but the time is now here for action. We know members understand the long-term challenges facing Social Security and the importance of the program for the over 65 million who receive benefits. AMAC strives to be part of the solution to preserving this vital program and updating it for the realities of the 21st century so that it will be there for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as it has been there for all since it was first enacted in 1935.
The full, detailed “Combined Social Security Guarantee and Social Security Plus Initiative” can be found on our website here.