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Begich Proposes Changes to Strengthen Social Security

As the Senate returns to Washington to debate how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid severe automatic budget cuts, Sen. Mark Begich announced a new bill to strengthen the Social Security program while making clear the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of America's seniors by cutting or privatizing Social Security. Begich will discuss the bill at a senior town hall meeting at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center this afternoon.

“Our seniors and persons with disabilities need the security of knowing the benefits they earned during decades in the workforce will be there for them when they need them most,” Begich said. 

Entitled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, the bill extends the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities.

How Senator Begich’s Bill Works 

·         Increases Benefits for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Currently, Social Security benefits are adjusted by the Consumer Price Index for workers. However, costs and spending patterns for seniors do not mirror those of the workforce. That is why Sen. Begich’s bill calls for adjusting cost-of-living increases with a Consumer Price Index specifically for the elderly which was created to more accurately measure the costs of goods and services seniors actually buy.

·         Lifts the Cap on High-Income Contributions. Current law sets a cap based on income at $113,700 for paying into Social Security. If an individual’s wages hit that total for the year, they no longer pay into the program. Sen. Begich’s bill lifts the cap and asks higher income earners to pay Social Security on all their earnings in order to increase the program’s revenue stream and extend the overall solvency of the program.

·         Extends Social Security for approximately 75 years through modest revenue increases gradually implemented over the course of seven years

Support From Alaskans and Seniors Advocacy Groups

Alaska residents like Beverly Moore, an 81-year-old Korean War Navy veteran, will attend the meeting to hear the senator’s proposal and emphasize how much she relies on it: “Social Security provides the majority of my income,” Moore said.

Sen. Begich’s bill is endorsed by the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, one of the country’s largest organizations focused on preserving Social Security, with 300 member organizations representing more than 50 million Americans.

“Sen. Begich’s bill serves the American people well in very important ways,” said Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. “By asking high-income people to pay the same payroll tax contribution as everyone else, he dramatically improves the financing of Social Security. By improving the accuracy of the cost of living adjustment, he assures that seniors and people with disabilities will be able to maintain their standard of living as time goes on.”

Representatives from the Alaska chapter of AARP will also be on hand this afternoon.

“The Social Security program is vital to so many Alaskans,” said Ann Secrest, spokesperson for AARP. “Alaskans never have to worry about outliving their guaranteed Social Security benefits – ever. AARP considers Social Security a true family protection plan.”

The bill will be introduced during the lame-duck session of Congress, which begins today.

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