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6 ways to improve Social Security

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

If you believe that cutting Social Security is bad for your retirement planning and the wrong way to go about fixing the economy, Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University, says stand up and defend the program.

Kingson, who is also co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition, spoke this week at the Claude Pepper Institute on Aging. He pointed to these statistics reported by Social Security itself in 2012.

  • Social Security is currently in surplus and has an accumulated reserve of $2.7 trillion.
  • Revenue will exceed benefits and administrative costs until 2021, when total accumulated reserves will be $3.1 trillion.
  • The accumulated reserves will enable the program to pay full benefits until 2033.
  • In 2033, reserves are projected to be depleted, but continuing wage taxes will cover three-quarters of benefits owed through 2087.
  • This projected shortfall is 2.6 percent of taxable payroll.

"We do not have a Social Security system that is belly up," Kingson says.

Instead of cutting Social Security, Kingson would improve it. He advocates these steps to make the program better serve everyone, but especially for people living in retirement.

  1. Increase the payroll tax rate for workers slowly over 50 years.
  2. Lift the payroll tax cap completely for employers. "If they want to pay high earners millions, that's fine, but make them pay wage tax on those salaries," Kingson says.
  3. Adopt the consumer price index for the elderly, or CPI-E, which unlike the current CPI for urban wage earners or clerical workers, or CPI-W, or the proposed chained CPI, recognizes the rising cost of health care.
  4. Restore Social Security's ability to offer good customer service by extending office hours and rehiring workers who were laid off.
  5. Increase benefits for the very poor. Give caregivers special credits, and give students who lose their parents benefits to age 22, so they can use them to pay for college.
  6. Keep the eligibility age at 62, encouraging work but protecting those who can't.

If you like his ideas, Kingson says tell your congressional representatives. "Politicians are afraid of noise from their districts," he says. "Write letters and circulate petitions."

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Don Grant
February 07, 2014 at 2:15 pm

It's so easy to fix. Have the government pay back with interest the money they took out and don"t pay back. It amounts to about 5 trillion dollars.

Gene M
October 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Good ideas.
How about SS tax on capitol gains income.

Gene M
October 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I feel you hit this right on the head.
Also charging S/S on capitol gains would solve this.

Nanci Costa
August 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Woman made less money than men did. I am 79 years old so since I made less money than the men did I receive less Social Security and that is not my fault cause women were paid less by there employer. So it is harder for me to live on SS with everything going up and SS not going up a 1.7 or 1.5 does not cover all increases. Since Obama has his hands in medicare I don't know what to expect for my medical. I am in good health now, but I don't know about the future. We have to have more increase on SS. If the government would keep there sticky fingers out of SS & mecicare the senors would to better off.

Joyce Daley
April 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Take the full retirement age on up & phase to 70 keeping the early 62 option. Many are not aware that for people now wait between 65 and 67 already.

April 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Do not make Social Security taxable while you are still working.It is terrible to have to pay back Social Security for every two pay back one and then if income exceeds threshold having to pay taxes on Social Security is just wrong.

Mary Byrne
April 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Quit dipping your fingers into social security!! I am 72 started drawing social security when I was 64 1/2 and still only receive $1241.00 a month. I am a female that lives alone. There are no tax breaks for me. Everything keeps going up and with the property taxes going up every year and doctors not taking Medicare patience, I do not know what is going to happen to me in a few years. I am scared to death and no one seems to care.

Milagros Ricart
April 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

There is a large population of new retirees coming up.hoping to retire at 62.i am one of those individual.i have fallen in the gap and loopholes of regulations. Iam unemployed layoff at 61 and looking for a job.recieving unemployment. retiring at 62 is blown out of the picture.Specially adding more cuts to SS.this 6 proposal are the best i heard.lets support and write to our Congress Reps.Employers are also part of the problem.they cut down. Investing on a younger generation cutting the older to unemployment then SS also have their set of rules for qualifications on benefits and medicare.and you see that group of us caught in the webb proposals.How sad the dreams of retirement become a nightmare.WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

April 13, 2013 at 5:54 am