Retirement Blog

Finance Blogs » Retirement Blog » Social Security love fest

Social Security love fest

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

Proposals to expand Social Security got more congressional support this week from Democrats who are apparently nervous about the mid-term 2014 elections, since some prognosticators predict that Republicans are likely to win enough seats to give them a winning majority in the U.S. Senate.

As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. So that could explain why Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, yesterday announced a Social Security reform measure that expands the program, flying in the face of proposals from Republicans to reform Social Security by shrinking it.

The proposal from Murray and Begich is called the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements Act, or RAISE. Beginning in 2015, the RAISE Act would do four things:

Levy a 2 percent payroll tax rate on earnings over $400,000. The bill would also give these high earners Social Security credits for paying these taxes, which would raise their Social Security payments, although it is unclear by how much. Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, says, "There has been a principle from the beginning that the more you contribute, the higher your benefit. It sounds like they are keeping that principle."


Improve benefits for divorced people. Currently, a divorced spouse is only entitled to receive benefits under the former spouse's earnings if the couple were married for 10 years. Beginning in 2016, this proposal would phase in eligibility for those married from five to 10 years. For example, those married nine years would get 90 percent of benefits. The same formula would apply to survivors benefits for divorced spouses.

Enhance survivor benefits when both spouses are eligible for workers benefits. This alternative benefit calculation would equal 75 percent of the sum of the survivor's own worker benefit plus the Primary Insurance Amount, or PIA, of the deceased spouse. It would be paid only if it were greater than what the current calculation would pay. This benefit would be available to surviving spouses on the rolls at the beginning of 2016 and those becoming eligible after 2016.

Extend benefits for young adults. Under current law, children of retired, disabled or deceased workers are no longer eligible for benefits after age 18, or 19 if they are still in high school. Beginning in 2016, this provision would extend benefits to full-time students until age 23.

Altman thinks that even though this proposal doesn't resolve Social Security's shortfall -- it only keeps the program solvent through 2034, an extra year -- it could win support across the aisle. "Expanding Social Security is both good policy given the squeeze on middle-class families, and it is also good politics because Tea Party members support Social Security the same way that union members support Social Security. Issues like abortion and gun control polarize the nation, but polls show that 70 or 80 percent of people support Social Security, and it is more important than ever."

Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
AreU kiddingMe
June 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

This is BS, you ask people to comment but then you censor them if it is not what you want. You are picking the narrative to create your agenda and make people believe what they are reading is random but its not. This is the problem with this....

AreU kiddingMe
June 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

oh this is BS, it wont post my comments!!!

AreU kiddingMe
June 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm


Phyllis B
June 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I have volunteered at a food bank after I retired. I had a rude awakening. I was a single parent with 3 children in my earlier years. Occasionally I worked 2 jobs to provide for my family.
I was brought up with good values and taught my children those values. The food bank showed me a different kind of world. I do not see those values in the world today. I see adults taking advantage of the system (not all of them) and teaching their family how to do it rather than take a meaningful job. There are jobs out there I may not be exactly what you want but it does put food on the table. I agree that the system is broken and I see too many people using it and what do they do? Make sure they have all the new clothes, cars, electronics and no motivation, no true self esteem and know how to fill out paperwork but not put in job applications. Excuse me for venting when I can barely make it on Social Security and my small pension. Even on SS I have to pay for health services and medications. Thanks for listening.

D. Watkins
June 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm

The social security system wouldn't be in the shape it is right now if Clinton and Gore wouldn't have found a way to put in into the general fund. How dumb was that? The first year the system dropped from 2.5 Trillion to 1.5 Trillion; real smart right.Don't get me wrong I don't like anybody that holds office. They all lie.AS for Richard Di Franco welcome to the Socialist Republic of Obama. If he could find a way to be King he would.

June 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm


richard Di Franco
June 14, 2014 at 10:50 am

When you elect a president who is handed a rare budget surplus and figures it better for the country to give insane tax cuts to people who already have more than enough $ (tho not in their greedy little minds), rather than try to pay down the enormous national debt; then I guess when you bemoan the sad state of our current educational system you would have to conclude that "learning" has never been a strong suit for a good many generations.

Reagan figured Capitalism had it all over Socialism so when the Soviets were in Afghanistan they had to be driven out. I guess his neocon advisors couldn't see that their so-called "Freedom Fighters" preferred to be called "al Qaida" and had a yen to topple tall buildings. Maybe we should leave the Russians alone!

The Bushies thought more about getting Saddam Husein than Osama bin Laden, so now a once relatively stable and controllable Middle East has become raging tinderbox which though poor planning and execution is allowing Radical Islamic Fundamentalism to invade much of the Arab world.

Glyn Sparks
June 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

Why is the amount saved for retirement called a tax.

June 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

I was raised in the 30s with the principle, "you take care of your own first" We should keep social security for Elder Senior US citizens first, take care of our own vets and those disabled Americans who absolutely can't work. Turn the illegals over to World Health Organizations, stop their welfare and food stamp business. People are using those food stamp cards in pot shops, casinos, resorts, cruise ships,concerts, shows and many places that honest tax payers can't afford or wouldn't attend anyway. I am an older elder, I have no Social Security, only a small poverty level private pension. And I still pay taxes for all these illegals, their housing, education, internet, food stamps, pell grants,TV,cell phones,and entertainment that I can't even afford for my family or myself. Why should they work? Our system is broken. I have had it. And now we have other countries besides Mexico and El Salvador dumping thousands of their little toddlers as young as 3 years old on our borders for U.S. to take care of. Where are all those great Progressive Humanitarian groups and Hollywood fund raisers. Why aren't THEY sending aide to these countries to help them take care of their own people. Our present administration will let U.S Seniors, Vets and Disabled starve and die to pay for illegals for their vote. (yes, they do vote, early and often) It is absolutely criminal. And keep in mind VA care is Obamacare. And many of you voted for that A$$ because he gave you a free cell phone.

B Duko
June 14, 2014 at 7:38 am

Why do we always here that SS is going broke, but we never here that about food stamps on welfare?????