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Strengthening Social Security Act of 2016

Written by Alex Lawson

On September 9, U.S. Representatives Linda Sanchez and Mike Honda of California introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2016. The law is designed to ensure that the Social Security Trust Funds have the money needed to pay out benefits for the next several decades and to increase Social Security benefits for future retirees.

The Strengthening Social Security Act would increase benefits for everyone receiving Social Security. It also adopts a method for adjusting Social Security benefits up that is in line with price increases in the basket of goods that older adults typically buy. The Consumer Price Index used today does not reflect the fact that older adults spend a disproportionate amount on health care relative to younger people and health care prices are rising at a faster pace than other goods.

Under the Strengthening Social Security Act, widows and widowers would receive a level of benefits at least equal to 75 percent of the amount they received before their spouses passed away.

The legislation funds all of these benefit expansions, and bolsters the Social Security trust funds, by phasing out the payroll contribution cap so that the wealthiest Americans pay the same rate into Social Security as the rest of us.

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6 Comments

    • As a senior, having collected SS for a number of yrs., I have seen prices increase and SS remain stagnant; or, with barely enough of an increase to sustain an existence in today’s economy–or even yesterday’s economy. WE paid into this to secure a decent retirement–after spending the majority of our lives, paying taxes–and for what–more wars, less services?? This US is not the country I would have hoped children would be left with, to raise their kids; and, survive–healthy and happy.

    • …exactly. Single individuals are often overlooked (in some cases like travel for example, I like to say discriminated against by having to pay higher prices for accommodations, tour plans, and some services).

      A single Social Security cheque today is often insufficient to meet the basic needs of housing, utilities, food and any medications. As of this year, the monthly Medicare premium was increased for new Social Security recipients, taking a larger portion of benefits. As this is a required expenditure something else will need to be cut back on. With no COLA for 2016, it means tightening the belt even more where for many, there are no more notches left.

  • …one rapidly rising expense that needs to be addressed in addition to medications is housing. In many cities rents are spiraling out of control and even a small studio apartment in the city proper can cost more than one’s monthly benefit cheque. Due to the recession it has become a landlord’s market as many people lost their homes and are now renters instead of owners.

    For seniors on Social Security this is a particularly important issue as one needs to be close to good transportation along with services like shopping, clinics, parks, etc. A good safe walkable neighbourhood would encourage exercise like walking or cycling. Outlying suburbs are often lacking in this quality (where I live many areas in the burbs do not even have sidewalks and pedestrians are often forced to walk along the edge of busy roadways with fast moving traffic).

    High rental costs are not just an issue for big cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York and Washington DC, but places like Austin Texas and Portland OR. As a matter of fact Portland currently has the fastest rising rents in the nation with no caps or controls. This summer the median rent for a 1 BR unit topped 1,400$. That is more than the average single social Security benefit. In the city it is not uncommon to find rents even higher, and this is not for a posh luxury apartment either. Landlords are jacking up rents by 25 to 35% or more between tenancies with doing little than slapping a new coat of paint on the walls. There was a story in our local newsweekly where the owners of one apartment complex are raising the rent on low income tenants in a building known to have serious mould issues. There is another case where one landlord said if the tenants do not want to pay the 350$ increase being imposed, they will be served with eviction notices.

    This is not only confined to the inner neighbourhoods, but spreading to the outskirts as well (the two cases I mentioned above occurred in the outer environs).

    Low income housing here, as well as in many other cities, has reached a critical situation. In Portland, wait lists are on average around five years with a number of them closed “indefinitely”. Very little new affordable/subsidised units are being planned as developers see not profit in it and the city seems more interested in attracting affluent professionals to move here. Other factors like short term rentals have also put a dent in the market here. There was an article in the Oregonian which mentioned that the Air B&B craze has accounted for the loss of 1,000 long term family rentals in the city. If supply cannot meet demand, prices naturally go up, and unlike wealth, these higher costs do “trickle down” to those n lower and fixed incomes.

    Facing life on the street or in what I refer to as “maison’s de morte” should not be the only future many retirees have to look forward to. Social Security was supposed to allow people to retire with dignity, not into poverty. Unfortunately it has not been allowed to keep that promise because of self serving politicians with their own interests in mind.

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