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Policy Options to Strengthen Social Security

There are many viable options available to shore up and strengthen Social Security, none of which involve abolishing or radically changing this program that has worked for generations:

We can make benefits more adequate by doing any or all of the following:

  • Increasing the benefit amount for those 85 and older.
  • Increasing the benefit amount for the widowed spouse.
  • Provide childcare credits in the regular benefit formula to assist individuals who spent years raising children.
  • Update the minimum benefit to assist low-wage workers.
  • Restore the student benefit for survivors still in school up to the age of 22.
  • Provide across the board benefit increases.

Increase the income by adjusting the contribution rate in any of the following ways:

  • Increase the contribution rate by 1.1% for all workers.
  • Schedule future increases when funds are needed.
  • Schedule a very gradual increase over 20 years.
  • Schedule “balancing rate” increases based on the current trustees’ intermediate assumptions

Increase income by “broadening the base” of where we can find contributions to the Trust Fund:

  • Earnings above the cap (no contributions are currently collected from income after the first $106,800)
  • Earnings of workers not currently covered by Social Security
  • Non-taxable fringe benefits paid by employers like health insurance premiums and 401(K) contributions
  • Employee’s tax-favored contribution to “salary reduction” plans for things like transportation and healthcare expenses
  • Income from capital
  • Realized increases in the value of property and transfers of property

These policy options are explained in more detail at the following sources:

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