Congress Should Boost Social Security Benefits and Increase the Amount of Wages Subject to Payroll Tax

Congress Should Boost Social Security Benefits and Increase the Amount of Wages Subject to Payroll Tax

(Washington, DC) – Eighty-three percent (83%) of the participants in a recent survey by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) agree that Congress should boost Social Security benefits by 2 percent.  The same survey found that 72 percent (72%) respondents think that Social Security’s financing should be strengthened by applying the payroll tax to all earnings, not just the first $137,700 of wages as is currently the case under law.

“This is an extremely high level of agreement among retirees of varied political persuasions,” says Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League (TSCL).  “In recent years, The Senior Citizens League has found broad support for these two changes to Social Security, yet Congress has failed to take action on this issue,” Johnson notes.

The online survey found that participants support boosting Social Security benefits by 2 percent and tying the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to a Consumer Price Index (CPI) that more closely represents the price changes experienced by retirees, such as the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).  Only 5 percent were opposed to boosting Social Security benefits, and 12 percent were uncertain.

“A Social Security benefit boost will be needed, especially in 2021 due to the impacts of the recession on the annual inflation adjustment,” Johnson says.  Although there was a large jump in the CPI data for the month of July, consumer price data are only beginning to turn around from a deep drop — especially in energy and oil prices  —that began early this year.

Johnson estimates that the 2021 COLA would still be one of the lowest ever paid.  Her current estimate of the COLA is just 1.1% with August and September data still to come in.  Johnson notes that she has recently received dozens of emails from retirees who report rising costs during the pandemic with most mentioning higher Medicare premiums, and out of pocket costs, particularly for prescription drugs.

The Senior Citizens League is advocating for boosting benefits and enacting an emergency COLA of no less than 3% for 2021 to help older households weather the impacts of the coronavirus, and to head off another round of Medicare Part B premium increases that outstrip the amount they receive in their annual inflation adjustment in 2021.


With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation’s largest nonpartisan seniors’ groups.  Its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for.  The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association.  Visit for more information.