Benefit Bulletin: August 2016

Benefit Bulletin: August 2016

78% Of Older Voters Support Strengthening Social Security By Raising Payroll Taxes

Voters have opposed benefit cuts in the past as a way to fix Social Security.  But TSCL’s new 2016 Senior Survey found that older voters favor some changes that provide the program with more revenue, and modestly higher benefits in the future.

Payroll taxes, and the taxes that people pay on a portion of their Social Security benefits, are two major sources of program funding.  The Social Security Trust Fund also receives interest payments from the U.S. Treasury for the money that the federal government has borrowed when the program was in surplus.  In fact, the

Social Security Trust Fund is the biggest government account holding U.S. debt — and the U.S. Treasury owes the Trust Fund more than $2.8 trillion.

Seventy-eight percent of older voters participating in TSCL’s survey say they support raising payroll taxes, eliminating the taxable maximum wage cap so that everyone pays Social Security taxes on all earnings over $118,500.  Unlike low - and middle - income wage earners, the highest earners today only pay taxes on the first $118,500 in earnings and enjoy a huge Social Security tax break on all on wages over that amount.  A clear majority — 62% of survey participants — also favors very gradually increasing the payroll tax rate by 1% each for workers and employers.  Taken together, both changes would provide enough financing to keep the program solvent for more than 50 years.

Survey participants also support making changes to modestly increase benefits by using a senior CPI, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), to determine the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA), and to provide a boost of about $70 per month.  TSCL is meeting with Members of Congress to enact these changes.  With 73% of survey participants reporting that their household expenses in 2015 rose by more than $79 a month, while average Social Security benefits are stuck around $1,250 due to low or no COLAs, TSCL is making a strong case that older Americans need a raise!

We encourage you to tell incumbent Members of Congress who are running for re-election what you expect from the lawmakers who represent you.  Outline the changes you support for Social Security and ask the candidates if they are willing to end the tax breaks for the wealthy so that all working Americans can enjoy a more secure retirement.