Left uncorrected, the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted in 2034, just 16 years from now. This is a crisis for every American, young and old. Changes must be made, but Congress is not in the mood to act. The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) has a proposal before Congress that will guarantee Social Security availability for every citizen for the foreseeable future. The following is a Social Security status summary, the AMAC proposal, and what you can do to support it.
Last week I attended the AMAC Congressional Delegates and Chapter Presidents Conference. There I learned more about AMAC’s Social Security Guarantee proposal. My Congressman, Bruce Westerman, and others consider this plan to be the most promising option to keep the trust fund solvent. However, Congressmen and senators are reluctant to fix Social Security because it is such a controversial issue. Social Security payments currently amount to 25% of the federal budget or $1.1 trillion. That is more than our defense budget. Yet, less than $1 trillion is being paid into the trust fund. Social Security was a pay-as-you-go concept until 1982 when a tax hike kicked in to prepare for baby boomer retirements. A surplus in the fund began to build. As the chart above shows, the fund balance peaked at $2.8 trillion in 2008, then began to decline. After 2034, the pay to beneficiaries will again be only what workers are paying in. With the ratio of workers to retirees decreasing, that return to pay-as-you-go is estimated to sustain only 75% of current benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, the trust fund has funded all benefit payments since the beginning of Social Security. Neither Congress nor any president has robbed the fund. The fund has had and will have a surplus until 2034 at which time something has to happen, and something needs to happen now before it goes into deficit. Every year we delay exacerbates the problem. And, you know it takes Congress years to do anything.
AMAC’s proposal is as follows:
- Implement a tiered approach to Calculate cost of living adjustments (COLA) between 1% and 4% based on household income. All beneficiaries would be guaranteed an increase each year.
- Set back the retirement age for drawing benefits by phases reaching age 69 for those attaining age 62 in 2034.
- Change the level of payments for future retirees based on income levels starting in 2022 while grandfathering those nearing retirement. Surviving spouses would receive 75% of decedents benefits plus their own instead of having to choose one or the other.
- Reduce or eliminate amount of benefits withheld to offset pensions. Eliminate the penalty for retirement earnings while collecting benefits before full retirement age.
- Offer a voluntary tax-free Early Retirement Account (ERA) similar to the Roth IRA as an owned supplement to Social Security. This would be a balanced portfolio accessible at age 62 and left to designated survivors at death. Average workers starting at age 23 would accumulate $1 million in addition to regular benefits by age 65.
Details of this proposal may be found at https://amac.us/social-security/. The proposal will not please everyone, but something has to change to make Social Security viable for American workers and retirees.
When Social Security was enacted in 1939, the average life expectancy was age 64. Most people were still working up to that age. Benefits were only for those few who lived a little longer. That was the purpose. Today, life expectancy is age 79. Few people die without receiving some years of benefits and many receive them for over 30 years. Social Security was never intended to be a retirement plan, but rather an emergency subsistence. The AMAC proposal recognizes that and would likely keep the fund in surplus into the next century. I urge you to contact your representatives and senators insisting that they consider the AMAC proposal.
If you are 50 or over, and are not yet a member of AMAC, please visit https://amac.us. It has virtually the same benefits, discounts, and assistance for senior adults as AARP and is a conservative Christian organization with over 1.5 million members. It costs only $16 a year for membership (same as AARP), and opposes the AARP liberal positions. Help AMAC save Social Security, resolve other senior adult issues in Congress, and advocate traditional American values. For a limited time, you can get your first year’s membership free by applying at https://amac.us/ben and using the promo code “Ben.”