By Representative Linda T. Sanchez (CA-38)
For over 80 years, Social Security has been the bedrock of the American retirement system. The program ensures our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers do not fall into poverty during their golden years.
Now more than ever, retired Americans rely on Social Security for most, if not all, of their retirement income. I hear stories every day about seniors who cannot make ends meet because the current system is not built to meet their needs. Social Security’s modest earned benefits have not kept up with the rising costs in today’s economy.
As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Social Security Subcommittee, I am fighting to fix these shortcomings and ensure every American can retire with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. That is why I recently re-introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act. My bill would provide a much-needed increase in Social Security benefits, for seniors, survivors, and disabled individuals while ensuring everyone pays their fair share.
If enacted, nearly 59 million Americans who rely on Social Security would see an increase in benefits. The Strengthening Social Security Act notably includes an alternative benefit for widows and widowers that I have long championed in Congress. It is devastating to lose a partner, much less face financial ruin after losing part of your spousal benefit. This provision would protect widows and widowers by ensuring they receive the greater of 75% of the combined benefits they received when both spouses were alive.
More broadly, my bill would increase monthly benefits for current and future retirees. It would shore up the Social Security Trust Fund by phasing out the taxable cap of $142,800 and ensuring the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) adequately reflects the real cost of living today.
These changes are just the first step. My colleagues and I are working tirelessly to guarantee all seniors retire with financial security. As Americans, we have a responsibility to take care of those who can no longer work and deserve to retire in peace. That is why I will continue to fight for the Strengthening Social Security Act’s passage and other legislation that improves the livelihoods of our seniors.
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935, he stated that the law “represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.” I consider it one of my duties as a member of the House of Representatives to fulfill this mission and continue to build upon this sacred trust.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of TSCL.