Legislative Update: December 2021

Social Security Bill Would Boost Benefits For all Beneficiaries And Trust Fund Financing

By Shannon Benton, Executive Director

Social Security legislation containing a number of provisions that would strengthen and boost benefits has been introduced by House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, (CT-01).  The Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, has support from almost 200 Members of the House.  Among the many provisions the bill would:

  • Provide an immediate benefit increase for all beneficiaries of $30 a month.
  • Provide a more accurate cost of living adjustment by basing the annual inflation adjustment of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) which measures inflation experienced by senior households.  The CPI-E tends to grow about 0.2 percentage point faster per year than the current index used to calculate the COLA.
  • Improves benefits for widows and widowers in two income households.  Ensures that widow(er)s receive 75 percent of the combined Social Security benefits the couple was receiving prior to one spouse’s death.  Currently the surviving spouse receives either 100% of the deceased spouse benefit or, his or her own retirement benefit, whichever is highest.  That can reduce income by as much as half.
  • Adjusts the income thresholds which subject Social Security benefits to taxation, from $25,000 for individuals and $32,000 for married filing jointly, to $35,000 and $50,000 respectively.
  • Boosts benefits for the oldest beneficiaries.  Effective for all beneficiaries who have been receiving benefits for more than 15 years.
  • Repeals the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) so that affected state and local government retirees are no longer subject to these reductions to their Social Security benefits.
  • Increases access to benefits for children who live with grandparents or other relatives who are Social Security beneficiaries.
  • Applies the Social Security payroll tax to earnings above $400,000.

Congressman Larson recently wrote:

“Social Security is expected to pay a cost – of - living adjustment (COLA) at the end of this year that is significantly higher than in recent years, largely because of the pandemic.  While it’s welcome, it is not a benefit increase.  It reflects inflation and keeps purchasing power steady for Social Security beneficiaries.  It will be absorbed by Medicare premiums and the increase in costs for food, housing and prescription drugs.  That’s why we’re working with the President to pass “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust”.

Rest assured, TSCL continues our work into 2022, to get Social Security legislation passed that will strengthen Trust Fund financing, and boost benefits.  To stay up to date on the latest, watch your email for our Weekly Legislative Updates.