Protecting the Social Security Program Is Vital for the Wellbeing of Seniors

by | Published on Feb 20, 2017 | Social Security Disability

Social security disability benefits that are granted only on the basis of a detailed medical chart review are valuable options for millions of Americans including seniors and disabled children. In fact, social security benefits play an important role in reducing poverty in every state. The latest available census data shows that without this federal benefit, more than 22.1 million Americans would remain poor. As one of the medical review companies knowledgeable in disability facts and requirements through assisting social security lawyers, we understand how this program is especially important for minority families and elderly women who don’t have many retirement resources other than social security.

Most Americans aged 65 and older receive the major chunk of their income from social security.

  • Census figures show that without SS benefits, 40.5% of elderly Americans would have incomes below the official poverty line, all else being equal.
  • With SS benefits, only 8.8% would remain below the poverty line.
  • Social security provides majority of their cash income for 61% elderly beneficiaries; for thirty one percent of them it provides ninety percent or even more of their income.
  • As they grow older, the reliance on social security increases because older people, especially older women outlive their spouses and savings.
  • Among those aged eighty or older, social security provides majority of the income for 72% beneficiaries and nearly all of the income for 42% of beneficiaries.

These figures highlight the importance of protecting social security benefits for seniors and disabled Americans. In this context, the bill that Senator Bernie Sanders introduced recently is highly significant. It would increase social security benefits for most seniors while raising taxes on wealthy Americans. The bill would grant seniors who receive less than $16,000 per year an additional $1,300 annually in social security benefits. It would lift the payroll tax cap on highest earners, and extend the life of the social security program through 2078 (the trust fund is currently expected to be solvent through 2034, and after that period it is expected that it will only be able to pay roughly 79% of benefits.)

At present, SS is funded through a 6.2% payroll tax that applies only to the first $127,200 a person earns in a year. Sanders’ plan would lift the cap on all income above $250,000.

Sanders proposed his legislation on February 16 because it was Social Security Day of Action, the day that millionaires stop contributing money from their pay checks to Social Security because of the $127,200 cap. As he pointed out, his proposal met with an overwhelming majority of support in both parties, drawing attention to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in October 2016 that found that 72% Americans support increasing the entitlement program.  Sander’s legislation would not only extend SS solvency through 2078 but could also increase monthly payments for most beneficiaries by $43 per month starting at age 80, and $73 at age 90.

Whether Sander’s proposal will be successful is not clear, since congressional Republicans have earlier opposed charging higher taxes to save the Social Security program. In this context, one has to keep in mind the bill introduced by House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson, R-Texas that would eliminate taxes on social security benefits for wealthy retirees, increase the retirement age, and control COLA adjustments and thereby save $14 trillion apart from extending the SS program’s solvency by 75 years. Whatever be the measures adopted, it is vital that the Social Security program is protected so that it can continue to ensure that more Americans lead a comfortable, independent and secure life.

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