Congressional Corner from Sen. Mark Begich (AK)
My commitment to Social Security is unwavering. Since coming to the Senate, one of my top priorities has been protecting this most vital and important program for our seniors.
Our commitment to honoring the promise of Social Security reflects the best of American values: hard work, personal responsibility, human dignity and caring for others – as well as ourselves. As a lifelong Alaskan, I understand and honor these principles.
Social Security is a benefit that Americans have earned with each paycheck. To keep the program solvent for generations to come - for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren - I have introduced two critical bills, the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act and the Social Security Fairness Act.
Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act
- Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities – Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why my bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a CPI specifically for the elderly and disabled which will more accurately measure the costs of goods and services they actually spend their money on and helping counter rising medical costs.
- Brings Back Fairness, Extends Solvency – Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. My bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program's revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program by 75 years.
This solution brings back basic fairness to the system and ensures everyone receives benefits based on those additional contributions.
Social Security Fairness Act
Congress enacted the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) in the 1980s due to concerns that Social Security was paying extra benefits to workers in "non-covered" jobs – like many teachers, civil servants and local government employees. Many people are unaware of these penalties and millions see their benefits reduced every year – including over 10,000 Alaskans.
These provisions take hard-earned dollars out of the hands of retirees or their spouses – money that would otherwise be spent on essential goods and services and bolster the local economy. My bill repeals the WEP and GPO reductions to Social Security because it is the right thing to do to help seniors, widows and widowers, and the economy.
I will continue to fight to protect our seniors and ensure that America keeps its promise to our seniors – bringing security and peace of mind to so many individuals and their families.