July 21, 2022

Hirono, Deutch Reintroduce Bicameral Legislation to Strengthen and Expand Social Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) re-introduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, legislation that would strengthen Social Security’s financial state and ensure that seniors continue to benefit from the programs they have paid into throughout their lives.

“Social Security is a cornerstone of our nation’s social safety net that helps millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable Americans pay for essentials like food and housing,” said Senator Hirono. “While our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in cost of living expenses, people deserve to know Congress won’t ever let these benefits—which people have worked for throughout their lives—dry up. The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act will strengthen the system so qualified recipients get the benefits they deserve now and for decades to come, while also making sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.”

This bill will make significant progress toward extending the Social Security lifeline. According to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act is expected to extend the date of projected depletion of the OASI and DI Trust Fund Reserves from 2035 to 2052. The bill would also reduce the federal deficit by approximately $12.3 trillion by the end of the 75-year projection period.

“Social Security ensures that hardworking Americans can retire with dignity ,” said Congressman Deutch. “And yet, this crucial lifeline is on track for depletion by 2035. Every day, I hear stories from seniors in my district about the importance of their Social Security checks to their quality of life and to their day to day survival. This bill will not only continue these lifesaving benefits but strengthen them for decades to come.”

The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act aims to improve the Social Security system’s fairness, solvency, and benefits. Specifically, the bill:

  • Ensures the appropriate weight is given to the real costs in seniors’ budgets by using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate the relevant cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), rather than the more generic Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W);
  • Requires the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share by phasing out the cap on Social Security contributions over the next seven years and encouraging contributions above the cap in exchange for additional benefits; and
  • For the first time, the bill pro-rates the benefit for the month of death, so Americans struggling with a loss no longer have to return their loved one’s last Social Security check.

 

“With prices rising, it's more important than ever for Social Security's annual cost of living adjustments to reflect the real expenses beneficiaries face every day. The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act would do just that, by updating the formula used to calculate the adjustments. Furthermore, it ensures that when families lose a loved one, they aren't unfairly required to pay back a full month of the deceased's Social Security benefits,” said Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works. “This wise legislation makes these important improvements while restoring Social Security to long-range actuarial balance by requiring that the highest-paid workers contribute to Social Security all year long, just like the rest of us. Social Security Works enthusiastically endorses this common-sense legislation and thanks Representative Deutch, along with Senator Hirono, sponsor of the Senate counterpart bill, for their important leadership on this issue.”

“The proven economic impact of the Social Security program deserves the type of constructive legislative action that Senator Hirono and Representative Deutch have proposed in the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “The millions of members and supporters of our organization are in lock-step with seniors nationwide who have been asking for fairness in how the Social Security payroll tax is applied.  If all wage earners pay the 6.2% payroll tax, as this bill requires, Social Security’s solvency can be extended until 2052. Seniors also need the proposed COLA formula, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, that more accurately reflects their spending priorities to help ensure their Social Security benefits are keeping up with rising inflation. It’s worth noting that while Social Security benefits are a lifeline for most seniors, the disabled and their families, the benefits also provide a significant stream of financial strength to our state and local communities. This bill will help fortify Social Security, seniors and the economy. It’s a worthy proposal that needs to become a worthwhile law.”

“The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act will protect the Social Security benefits Americans have earned through a lifetime of work,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “It will extend the solvency of the trust fund by requiring wealthy Americans pay their fair share into the Social Security system. It's just  wrong that working  Americans pay a higher percentage of their income into Social Security than millionaires and billionaires do. Our 4.4 million retiree members commend Representative Deutch and Senator Hirono for their leadership on this critical issue. We also thank them for their 100% lifetime pro-retiree scores in the Alliance’s annual Congressional Voting Record.”

The full text of the bill is available here.

In addition to Senator Hirono, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act is cosponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Senator Hirono has been a strong advocate for Social Security and has consistently worked to ensure Social Security recipients get the benefits they have earned. In 2020, she introduced the Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act, legislation that provided temporary emergency relief for Social Security beneficiaries, and corrected the formula used for determining benefits to prevent substantial cuts for individuals turning 60.

  

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