NEWINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, recently presented his plan to revamp Social Security to a group of seniors frustrated with the current system.
Larson’s proposal, known as the Social Security 2100 Act, would put more money in the pocket of the typical retiree, he told about 15 people who came to the Newington Senior & Disabled Center.
The bill has been signed by over 190 members of Congress, but has failed to gain Republican support. GOP leaders have long-favored moving the system out of the government’s hands and into the private sector. Two-hundred and eighteen signatures are needed for the bill to pass.
“Social Security isn’t an entitlement,” Larson said. “It’s an insurance program that everyone has paid for.”
On a paycheck, that contribution is shown as “FICA,” which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
The last time the system was adjusted by an actuary was 1983, when Ronald Reagan was president, he added. However, it was not indexed to evolve along with the nation’s changing economy.
“To save Social Security we preserve the program, enhance it and index it,” Larson explained.
The plan is designed to protect those who don’t receive any other type of income benefit, especially low-income Americans and women, along with future generations retiring from the workforce.
“Many women are finding themselves retiring into poverty because they live longer than men but earn less and take time off to raise children,” said Larson, who is proposing a 2 percent benefit increase for everyone.
His plan would also increase the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors and move the tax bracket to $50,000 for a single person and $100,000 for couples.
The increase would be phased in over 25 years, so it would go up one-quarter of a percent per year.
“It would cost a person making over $400,000 a year less than a latte per week to save Social Security,” Larson said.
Newington resident Ed Reilly was relieved to hear about these proposed changes. The 57-year-old retired co-chairman of the Connecticut Iron Workers Trust Fund thanked the Congressman for his thoughtful approach.
“These changes can be met without costs going up; for practical purposes, it’s basically nothing,” Reilly said. “No one would even notice. It’s a resolution for a problem that everyone’s been talking about for a long time.”
Other proposals made in recent years promised to fix the system but were not “actuarially sound” according to Larson. Some cut retirees’ benefits drastically, doing away with the program they had paid into their entire working life.
“Even though we’re living longer, our bodies still get worn out around the same time,” he said. “The most expensive days of our lives are the last days of our lives. The benefits shouldn’t be cut. They should be advanced.”
Larson briefly discussed the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act, which he introduced alongside Reps. Joe Courtney and Brian Higgins. This second bill proposes giving Americans ages 50 to 64 the option to buy into Medicare at a lower cost while avoiding an increase in premiums. Additionally, employers could contribute to workers’ coverage pre-tax.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.