Maui News

US Sen. Schatz Reintroduces Bill To Expand Social Security Benefits

October 26, 2021, 10:45 AM HST
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US Sen. Brian Schatz has reintroduced the SAFE Social Security Act that would increase benefits by an average of $115 plus per month and take steps to ensure the solvency of the program for decades.

Today, US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduced the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security (SAFE Social Security) Act that would expand Social Security for seniors and families in Hawai‘i and across the country.

The bill would:

  • increase benefits by an average of $115 plus per month, ensuring the cost of living adjustments adequately reflect the living expenses of retirees
  • extend the life of the trust fund
  • remove the wage cap to make sure all Americans contribute equally
  • provide additional benefits to older seniors, caregivers and low-income Americans

“In Hawai‘i, more than 280,000 people depend on Social Security, the most successful safety net program in American history,” Sen. Schatz said. “My bill will expand Social Security and put more money in the hands of seniors who rely on it; strengthen the program for the next generation of retirees; and make sure everyone pays into the system equally. After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve to retire with the dignity and benefits they have earned.”

In Hawai‘i, more than 1 in 6 residents, rely on Social Security benefits. In 2040, the number of Hawai‘i seniors is expected to grow and make up more than 20 percent of the population, making the need to expand the program even more critical, according to the press release from Sen. Schatz’s office.

Specifically, the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act would:

  • Phase out the payroll tax cap so payroll taxes apply fairly to every dollar of wages earned
  • Adjust current benefits calculations to increase average monthly benefits by more than $100
  • Provide an additional 5% increase in benefits for older seniors to ensure they can make ends meet as their retirement savings are exhausted
  • Guarantee a new minimum benefit so lower income seniors receive enough to survive
  • Provide a credit for caregivers that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits
  • Ensure any increase in benefits under this legislation would not harm an individual’s eligibility or cause a reduction in their SSI, Medicaid or CHIP benefits
  • Eliminate the waiting period for disability insurance and surviving spousal benefits
  • Include an increase of 5.7% in the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) to extend the solvency of the Trust Fund to 2050
  • Update the annual cost of living adjustment to better reflect the real costs seniors face through the use of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly
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“The Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act will make a world of difference for older Americans,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Because Senator Schatz’s bill requires the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share into Social Security, benefits will not only go up but cost-of-living adjustments will better reflect the things seniors spend their money on. This legislation will also strengthen the Social Security Trust Fund, ensuring that current and future generations will receive all the benefits they have earned through a lifetime of work.”

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Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, said her organization “enthusiastically endorses” the bill.

“This essential legislation substantially increases benefits for all current and future beneficiaries while ensuring that all benefits can be paid in full and on time for the foreseeable future,” she said.

The SAFE Social Security Act is cosponsored by US Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and is supported by the Strengthening Social Security Coalition, Social Security Works, the Alliance for Retired Americans and the American Federation of Teachers.

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