Social Security’s Minimum Benefit Explained

The average Social Security benefit is about $1,400 per month, enough to keep a single person above the federal poverty level, though not all Americans who collect make this amount.  Social Security’s special minimum benefit was created to offer a higher benefit amount to certain low-income participants than the traditional benefit formula would produce.  Requirements to qualify include at least 11 years of earnings and a minimum amount earned ($14,805 annually for 2019).  As Dan Caplinger explains though, less than 50,000 people received the minimum benefit in 2017, down by 67% over the past 20 years.  Further, Social Security has said that as of 2018, no new recipients would qualify for the special minimum benefit due to a more favorable calculation for regular benefits.  There are proposals in Congress that seek to boost some benefits, ideas akin to the special minimum benefit.  But, with Social Security facing very real financial pressures due to changing demographics, expanding benefits for a program headed for insolvency in 15 years will prove challenging.  Read Caplinger’s full piece here.

The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) has a different approach, making modest changes in cost of living adjustments and the retirement age, without additional tax increases on workers.  AMAC advocates for a bipartisan compromise, “The Social Security Guarantee Act,” taking selected portions of bills introduced by former Rep. Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. Larson (D-CT) and merging them with the Association’s own well researched ideas.  One component is Social Security PLUS, a new yet voluntary early retirement plan that would allow all earners to have more income available at retirement.  This component is intended to appeal especially to younger workers.  AMAC is resolute in its mission that Social Security be preserved and modernized and has gotten the attention of lawmakers in DC, meeting with a great many congressional offices and their legislative staffs over the past several years.  Read AMAC’s plan here.



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