Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Save Our Social Security Act

What a novel idea -- Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI) who I was completely unfamiliar with previous to today, has introduced into the House of Representatives a bill that incorporates ideas espoused by both parties. That's right, it's somewhat of a compromise bill designed to save our Social Security system by adding some burden to high earners while also increasing retirement ages.

The sad part is that I think that most people will look at this bill and focus on the parts that they, philosophically, don't like rather than emphasizing that it represents an excellent effort at potential bipartisan compromise. I hope I'm wrong.

What's in the bill?

  • The Social Security Wage Base, that is the amount subject to the 6.2% OASDI tax that is currently at $118,500, will increase as follows:
    • $156,550 in 2017
    • $194,600 in 2018
    • $232,650 in 2019
    • $270,700 in 2020
    • $308,750 in 2021
    • after 2021, to be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury to capture 90% of all FICA-covered wages
  • Change the current 3-band formula for calculating Social Security benefits to a 4-band formula thus allowing that all compensation considered for purposes of Social Security taxes also be considered for Social Security benefits, but not increasing Social Security benefits for the highest earners.
  • Beginning in 2022, the Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA) would again begin to gradually increase. This would have little, if any, effect on people currently close to SSNRA, but would reflect longer work spans and life spans for younger workers. This piece of the bill would be reexamined by actuaries every 10 years to study the effects of mortality improvements.
  • Change the basis for calculating the annual COLA for current SS beneficiaries by putting more weight on, for example, food, clothing, and transportation, and by putting relatively lower weight on housing, medical care, and recreation. The intent is to more closely mirror the necessary spending of a senior citizen as compared to that of an average urban wage earner.
  • Create a minimum benefit at 125% of the poverty level
  • Increase the benefit amount (I can't quite determine how this will work) after a person has been eligible to have been in pay status for 20 years
  • Base the SS benefit on 38 years of SS wages rather than 35
  • No legislation can be considered that would temporarily lower SS revenue for a year
Is this what I think is the best solution for Social Security? Probably not.

On the other hand, is this the best solution that I have seen that has a chance of passing Congress and being signed into law by the President? In my opinion, it has the best chance since 1983.

Let's see where it goes.


  1. Th worst part of this otherwise good bill is lengthening the computation period from 35 to 38 years.The burden of this change falls quite disproportionately on women. Most men have 38 years of earnings to average. Most women do not and have to throw in a bunch of zero years. That strikes me as a really unfair change. Women who leave paid employment to care for children -- most women, in other words -- just can't achieve a 38-year work history. Why penalize them?

  2. I agree with Bruce above and while I dont know enough about SS and all the laws surrounding it and how its calculated - on the surface this does seem to hit some bi-partisan notes and is hopefully a starting point. Not so sure I agree with the part where more weight is put on food and transportation and clothing and less on housing and medical care..agree with recreation but housing and medical care? Most seniors dont need much clothing so that sounds odd to me...Food housing and meds are probably the priorities in my estimation... but that is just a person who has been involved with several older people and how they live.