Those on a quest for their version of fairness are targeting the structure of Social Security based not on formulas, but on the differences in society and human beings.
It was always a given that the more you earn the higher your monthly benefit or the longer you live and collect benefits the more in total you are likely to receive. There was always the possibility that a person could work and pay taxes for forty years and die the day after retirement. In fact the actuaries count on all those factors. That’s how insurance and retirement plans work.
Somehow all that has become unfair and some of the folks looking at Social Security want to change things.
As currently structured the SS benefit formula favors lower income workers by replacing a higher percentage of earnings, on average 42%, but less as earnings rise. Of course, the more you earn, the more taxes you pay even while your benefit is less generous. This means that on an actuarial equal basis, higher earners are subsidizing other workers.
But there are other factors. Higher income earners live longer so their chances of collecting a benefit for 10-12 years longer is greater. In addition, lower income workers tend to begin collecting benefits at an earlier age, they may collect longer, but at a reduced amount.
So, to fix this perceived inequity some policymakers want to change the Social Security calculation to give even a higher proportion of benefits to lower income beneficiaries.
Is this the purpose of Social Security; to adjust for all factors relating to longevity, to account for life choices or circumstances? How far do we go in converting Social Security into a giant welfare program funded by fewer and fewer people while ignoring actuarial basics that would apply to the typical retirement plan?