We join together in support of the right of all Americans to Social Security, a promise made to every generation.
Social Security represents the best of American values – rewarding work, honoring our parents and caring for our neighbors. Established because American workers demanded it, Social Security belongs to the workers and their families who have worked hard, paid taxes in, and earned its benefits.
Due to a loss of employment, wages, private savings and pensions, Social Security has become more important than ever. We are committed to passing on Social Security’s legacy to future generations, and united in support of the following principles:
1. Social Security’s financing is sound, now and into the future. For decades, working Americans have paid into the system. Their contributions have both supported benefit payments and built a $2.6 trillion Trust Fund. Social Security did not cause the federal deficit and benefits should not be cut to reduce the deficit.
2. Social Security has stood the test of time. It should not be privatized in whole or in part.
3. Social Security is an insurance policy and as such should not be means-tested. Workers pay for this insurance, and they and their dependents are entitled to it regardless of their income or savings.
4. Social Security provides vital protection to Americans of all income levels against the loss of wages as the result of disability, death, or old age. Those benefits should not be reduced in any way, whether by changing the cost of living adjustment or benefit formula.
5. Social Security’s retirement age, already scheduled to increase from 66 to 67, should not be raised further. Raising the retirement age constitutes a benefit cut. The present age limits already impose a hardship on Americans who work in physically demanding jobs or those unable to find or keep employment.
6. Congress should act to eliminate the cap on taxable earnings, ensuring high-income earners pay the same tax rate as everyone else, in order to ensure long-term program stability for future generations.
7. Social Security’s benefits should be expanded and improved to create a more equitable and secure future for all, regardless of income. This can be accomplished by:
- Raising benefits overall: Adjusting the benefit formula to raise benefits for those who have had careers in low-wage occupations – such as childcare, restaurant service, or home health care – would better protect the financial security of people just scraping by, particularly older women and people of color.
- Protecting the very elderly: Living to extreme old age, or outliving (or not having) a spouse greatly increases the risk of poverty. “Bump-ups” in benefits for seniors living past a certain age and increasing benefits for elderly widows and widowers would reduce financial insecurity among these vulnerable people.
- Reducing gender and racial inequities: Caring for children or aging family members can cause many people, especially women, to reduce time in the workforce, greatly affecting their retirement benefits. Reducing the number of years’ earnings used to calculate benefits from 35 to 28 can eliminate the caregiving penalty. It would also help those with reduced access to employment due to recessions, discrimination, local economic conditions or disasters, and other barriers.
- Restoring student survivor benefits: Before 1981, children of retired, deceased, or disabled workers continued receiving benefits through age 22 if they attended college. Now benefits end once a young person turns 18 and finishes high school. Reinstating college benefits could help children and their families achieve their dreams, as well as reduce socioeconomic barriers to education and lifetime opportunities.
- Adopting the CPI-E inflation index: Over the past decade, the cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula has led to average increases of just over 1 percent. Simultaneous increases in Medicare premiums have often meant many seniors see no additional income from COLAs. Adopting the consumer price index for the elderly, or CPI-E, would be a more accurate means of calculating adequate COLAs.
- Restoring office access & services: The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) expenses are self-funded and account for less than one penny of every dollar spent. While demand for SSA services (and staff workloads) have risen to record highs, the SSA’s operating budget shrank 11 percent from 2010 to 2017 (adjusted for inflation). This has resulted in the closure of one field office and the loss of 776 employees in Washington. Restoring full funding would help ensure people have dependable and easily accessible in-person service at Social Security offices, often at critical moments in their lives.