Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) today stood with workers and advocates to introduce legislation that would expand Social Security benefits and strengthen the retirement program so that it would be solvent for decades to come. Since its creation nearly 80 years ago, Social Security has kept millions of senior citizens, widows, dependent children, and the disabled out of poverty.
“We must not only protect our Social Security system, we must strengthen and expand it,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We have to make sure that it’s actually giving retirees and their families the support they need – and the support they spent their entire lives earning. For so many retirees and their families all over my state of New York, and all over the country, Social Security is truly a matter of survival. Social Security is essential, and it’s something that I will do everything in my power to protect and strengthen.”
“It is time to expand Social Security, not cut it,” said Senator Sanders. “At a time when more than half of older Americans over the age of 55 have no retirement savings, our job is to expand Social Security to make sure that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity they have earned and everyone with a disability can live with the security they need.”
“As a trained gerontologist, I have devoted my career to protecting programs and benefits vital to seniors. It has always been and continues to be my highest priority to protect Social Security. In the face of future funding challenges, we need common sense solutions in order to fully protect this vital program. It is incomprehensible that while Social Security is in financial crisis, we are allowing millionaires to stop paying in to the program this week. I am proud to introduce legislation to address this disparity, increase benefits for seniors, and protect the program from partisan cuts,” said Representative DeFazio.
On average, Social Security beneficiaries receive just under $1,400 a month. For roughly two-thirds of recipients, this makes up most of their income, while for the other one-third, this is their only paycheck. Specifically, the Social Security Expansion Act would do the following:
- Increase yearly benefits for nearly all recipients by around $800;
- Lift the current cap to incomes over $250,000, ensuring those with incomes of more than $250,000 pay the same rate into the retirement system everyone else already does;
- Apply the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to more accurately reflect benefits that keep up with inflation;
- Update the Special Minimum Benefit to make it easier for low earners to qualify for the program; and
- Restore student benefits up to the age of 22 so that children of deceased or disabled parents have educational support.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).