Politics

What to expect from Social Security 2100 – maybe

Overall the Social Security 2100 legislation has some good provisions, but many proponents are creating unrealistic expectations for “expanded” benefits, especially for current beneficiaries.

Social Security 2100 will provide a higher minimum benefit for very low income people and it will allow many to avoid paying income taxes on their benefits by increasing the threshold for taxation. it will also gradually raise payroll taxes for working Americans.

However, when it comes to increased benefits for current beneficiaries and future COLAs don’t expect too much.

Here is what the legislation says:

SEC. 101. ACROSS-THE-BOARD BENEFIT INCREASE.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 215(a)(1)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 415(a)(1)(A)(i)) is amended by striking ‘‘90 percent’’ and inserting ‘‘93 percent’’.

From Social Security 2100 Fact Sheet

Benefit bump for current and new beneficiaries – Provides an increase for all beneficiaries that is the equivalent to about 2% of the average benefit. The US faces a retirement crisis and a modest boost in benefits strengthens the one leg of the retirement system that is universal and the most reliable. [Sec. 101]

Here is what the change means:

Currently the first $926 of indexed earnings are multiplied by 90%; over $926 by 32% and over $5,583 by 15%.

Under the proposal the 90% becomes 93%, So, $ 926 X 3% = $27.78 the dollar value of the increase. NOTE: the $926 indexed earnings changes regularly.

The average Social Security benefit was $1,461 per month in January 2019. 2% of that amount is $29.22. So for average beneficiaries the increase is less than 2% and for all those folks who are not average, far less. ($2,000 monthly benefit = 1.4%).

It seems unlikely that a pay raise, taxable for many households, of $6.90 per week will do too much to strengthen one leg of the retirement stool. Unless Americans accept at least doubling of the SS payroll tax, Social Security will remain a minor contributor to an adequate retirement income for a substantial percentage of retired Americans.

When it comes to the COLA, using the CPI-E provides no guarantee of higher COLAs in the future.

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4 replies »

  1. I hope the SS 2100 bill passes into law… especially because it helps correct the ‘never indexed for inflation’ amount of SS + other income subject to income tax. The RMD beginning at age 70 is bad enough but when you add SS benefits to the amount subject to income tax, it’s quite a tax burden on seniors. I’m also hoping the SECURE Retirement Act also passes which will raise the RMD age to 72. I wish that age were higher.

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  2. The fact that in retirement the low wage worker, who had very little income to save, will most likely live with family members in retirement. My 70 year old sister living in the North Dallas area, who just retired in 2017 has my mom (89) and her mother in law (96) living with her and her husband. My sister who was making $70 K per year, now receives $2,900 per month SS benefit counting her husbands spousal benefit at age 63. She has $40,000 in retirement savings and claims that when that is gone and the Moms pass away, she will have a very hard time making it. Her house is paid off, but she does have a $388 per month car payment.

    For the first time in my life as a low wage worker, now retired with a military pension and SS I can now save. I have $6,000 in an emergency fund and another $2,400 in silver bullion. Starting in Jan 2020 I will be able to save my total family SS benefit $15,888 per year and live on my military pension. Paying off thousands of dollars in debt is the only reason I took my SS benefits at 62.

    Anyone who is nearing retirement better pay off all debt, or life will be a struggle, unless you have the income to service the debt and live as well as you did while working.

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    • I’m a retired single lady living in Dallas. My brother wanted me to move out of state to be near relatives. But I love Texas [reasonable cost of living and no state income tax.] So, as long as I am physically able, I prefer living independently in my hometown. During most of my working career I was a single mother of a disabled son. Sadly, my son suddenly died during a seizure several years ago at age 38. I never earned even close to $70,000 in my life. Thank God, I was able to save money and retire early on a nice nest egg [plus I had good corporate retirement benefits.] Before I retired I made sure I paid off both my house and my car and had zero debt. 12 years later, I am still living in my paid off house and driving that same car [Honda Civic.] I love that car and when the time comes I hope to buy a new one exactly like it. Thank God, I am in good financial position so I can pay cash.

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