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Social Security beneficiaries to see 5.9% pay boost

Laura Weiss, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

On Wednesday, Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., head of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, said he planned to introduce a revised version of his bill from the 116th Congress that would have combined an across-the-board benefit boost, more generous inflation adjustments and higher minimum benefits with higher payroll taxes.

Like Biden, Larson’s previous bill would have applied the tax to earnings above $400,000, but it would also gradually raise the tax rate from 6.2% to 7.4%. A Larson spokeswoman said Wednesday that the new version wouldn’t include that rate increase.

In a statement Wednesday, Larson said 5 million seniors are still living below the poverty line and pointed out that a portion of the COLA is eaten up automatically by Medicare premiums. “Congress has failed seniors and that needs to change,” he said.

Goss and experts at the BPC event Wednesday also discussed proposals to shore up Social Security finances, as well as those that would adjust benefits to address poverty in older age. Among options include tying cost-of-living increases to a different inflation index that tracks spending by the elderly population, which would likely mean less weighting of energy costs and significant incorporation of medical expenses.

Goss said that index usually rises somewhat faster than other measures. He also noted other forms of retirement income generally aren’t inflation-indexed, leading to more poverty as individuals get older.

 

Goss called for action sooner to address Social Security’s future shortfall, even if the changes don’t take effect until closer to when funds are set to run dry. Moving sooner would mean “more options, more advance notice and you can phase in the changes more gradually,” he said.

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(Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.)

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