Maui News

Hirono Reintroduces Social Security Expansion Act

April 11, 2019, 12:53 PM HST
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US Senator Mazie Hirono joined other senators in reintroducing legislation aimed at expanding Social Security programs.

Hirono said the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act aims to strengthen the Social Security program by “restoring fairness in contributions while increasing benefits for seniors and other beneficiaries.”

“For many seniors living in Hawaiʻi on fixed incomes, Social Security benefits have not gone far enough to help them make ends meet and have not kept pace with the rising costs of consumer goods,” Senator Hirono said. “Social Security is the cornerstone of retirement and a safety net for millions of families who rely on the program every day to survive. I am proud to join Congressman Deutch in reintroducing this legislation as we continue our fight to strengthen and improve Social Security and to ensure that seniors and others who rely on this critical program receive the benefits they deserve.”

Most Americans contribute 6.2% of their paychecks to Social Security. However, high-income earners stop paying into the Social Security program once they have hit the annual contributions cap on maximum taxable earnings, which is $132,900 for 2019. Based on this contributions cap, this week marks the point in 2019 when the highest one percent of earners would stop paying into Social Security.

The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act would gradually phase out this contributions cap for high-income earners over the next seven years until everyone pays into the program at the same rate for the entire year.

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Additionally, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act would also change how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for seniors and other beneficiaries “to provide a more generous and accurate measure of inflation.” Currently, adjustment calculations for Social Security benefits are determined based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

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However, as costs for seniors continue to climb faster than for those of other Americans, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act would replace CPI-W with the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, a metric created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to more accurately measure the costs incurred by elderly Americans – who tend to spend more of their incomes on medical care, prescription drugs, energy costs, and other rapidly-growing expenses.

Together, the Social Security Administration has indicated these changes would improve benefits for seniors and others while extending the solvency of the combined Social Security Trust Fund by an additional 19 years – from the current 2034 to 2053.

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