Legislative Update: November 2022

Changes That Older Americans Support To Strengthen Social Security Benefits

By Daisy Brown, Legislative Liaison

No matter what their party leaning, older voters share some clear legislative priorities for Congress.  TSCL’s latest Senior Priority Survey highlights the type of changes that retirees of all political persuasions tend to support for strengthening Social Security benefits and program financing.

An overriding concern of almost every survey participant is the adequacy of Social Security benefits to support beneficiaries through their entire retirement.  Only 6% thought their Social Security benefits would be adequate to meet their needs.  The other 94% are uncertain, worried, falling behind, or in need of help.

But the path to fixing this situation isn’t easy.  Social Security is forecast to run low in just 13 years, and should Congress take no action to fix things, benefits would be automatically reduced by more than 20% to match the amount of revenues coming into the system.  In fact, policy experts believe that any plan to fix Social Security will need to include both benefit cuts and revenue increases.

Nevertheless, 65% of participants in our new survey want a Social Security solvency plan that raises tax revenues without cutting benefits.  Of several choices, the majority — 50% of survey respondents — support lifting the amount of wages subject to taxation, which is currently capped at $147,000, so that the Social Security payroll tax is applied to 100% of earnings.  Sixteen percent think the rate of Social Security taxes paid by employees and matched by employers should be very gradually raised by 0.1% per year.

TSCL’s survey and a new poll identified several ways that survey participants think Social Security benefits should be improved including:

  • 71% support better protecting benefits from inflation, tying the annual cost -of-living adjustment (COLA) to a consumer price index that more fairly represents senior spending.
  • 60% support providing Social Security recipients tax relief through a suspension of the taxation of Social Security benefits.

In addition, TSCL’s petition to Congress for passage of a one-time $1,400 stimulus check for Social Security recipients has over 188,900 signers.

For Congress, coming up with a plan that can strengthen Social Security benefits at the same time it beefs up program financing is no simple task.  You can be sure TSCL is working with lawmakers to find solutions that protect the benefits of older Americans while urging Members of Congress to act quickly on these important reforms.

Tell us what you think.  Your participation in TSCL’s surveys can help change minds and votes in Congress.  Please take TSCL’s new 2022 Retirement Survey.