Late Thursday night, the chair for the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee introduced a bill to that would raise the retirement age and reduce retirement benefits as much as a third.
Republican Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas introduced a bill labeled as a reform for the program instituted by beloved President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Unfortunately, rather than helping to provide better benefits to American retirees, the changes would make a dignified retirement later and more stingy than ever.
One of the more drastic measures is raising the retirement age to 69 for those born in 1968 or later. The retirement age has already been raised from 65 to 67 for those born after 1960 and after and this plan will require younger workers to wait even longer to receive their full benefit.
According to Forbes, the changes will also alter the benefit formula:
‘In such a way that benefits are progressively and gradually reduced for roughly the top half of retirees.’
The plan changes also include deleting any cost of living (COLA) increases for retirees with higher incomes: singles over $85K and couples making over $170,000. It would also reduce the benefits for spouses of higher-income retirees.
Although this sounds much fairer on the surface, funding for social security still places the burden of supporting the program on the working poor. According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson’s plan reduces funding coming into the social security program through the elimination of taxes on benefits for high-income retirees that would normally be paid back into the social security system.
Johnson is also proposing cutting the benefits for the spouses and children of retired and disabled workers. Rather than providing dependent benefits based on the actual wages earned by the worker, dependent benefits would be based on “average wages.”
Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, released a statement regarding the Republican’s plan to severely chop benefits for retirees.
‘Apparently nothing upsets House Republicans like the idea of hard-working people getting to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement. While Speaker Ryan sharpens his knives for Medicare, Chairman Johnson’s bill is an alarming sign that Republicans are greedily eyeing devastating cuts to Americans’ Social Security benefits as well.
‘The top Republican on the Social Security Subcommittee is rolling out legislation that cuts benefits by more than a third, raises the retirement age from 67 to 69, cuts seniors’ cost of living adjustments, and targets benefits for the families of disabled and retired workers.’
Although Americans are living longer, most of those who are living longer are higher income workers and professionals. The working poor in America, who generally make a living in physically demanding jobs, often find themselves unable to compete in those jobs after the age of 60 or older. Nor is the trend for longer lifespans guaranteed: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that life expectancy in the U.S. dropped last year for the first time since the early 1990s.
Reducing benefits, raising the age of retirement, and cutting funding to social security is only the first step in gutting our national pension fund. Readers who wish do to so can find and contact their House representative at the House.gov website.
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