Congress Reintroduces Bill to Keep Social Security Recipients Out of Poverty

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Income from Social Security isn’t always enough to cover the cost of living — putting millions of Americans at risk of living in poverty. A bill reintroduced to Congress aims to address this shortfall and improve benefits.

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The proposal, called the Social Security Enhancement and Protection Act, was put forward by Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore this week, reports CNBC.

“It’s only right that I commemorate the 86th anniversary of Social Security by reintroducing the Social Security Enhancement and Protection Act, which would strengthen this crucial program so many rely on,” Moore said in a statement. “We can make this program work better for the Americans who stand to benefit the most from it, including women, people of color, and low-wealth people.”

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According to the congresswoman, the bill would recognize every year spent towards childcare as a year of coverage for determining an individual’s Social Security benefits and it would renew support for students who are children of retired, deceased or disabled workers. The bill would also improve the program’s special minimum benefit to better reach low-income workers and increase benefits for all beneficiaries 20 years after retirement so that individuals don’t outlive their savings.

However, passing Social Security legislation in the near future may be out of reach. Karen E. Smith, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told CNBC that one issue is how well poverty is actually addressed. Only new beneficiaries might be able to access the higher minimum benefits and the 20-year bump might be biased towards higher-income individuals because they tend to live longer, Smith said.

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Additionally, Social Security’s trust funds have about 10 years left, at which point benefits may be reduced. “It’s really a debate in Congress that we need to have and hasn’t been happening,” Smith added.

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Last updated: August 20, 2021


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