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Schatz Reintroduces Legislation To Expand Social Security

The Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act Would Increase Benefits for Families in Hawai‘i and Across the Country

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) reintroduced the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security (SAFE Social Security) Act, legislation to expand Social Security for seniors and families in Hawai‘i and across the country. The bill would increase benefits on average by more than $115 per month, ensure the cost of living adjustments adequately reflect the living expenses of retirees, extend the life of the trust fund, remove the wage cap to make sure all Americans contribute equally, and provide additional benefits to older seniors, caregivers, and low-income Americans.

“In Hawai‘i, more than 280,000 people depend on Social Security, the most successful safety net program in American history,” said Senator Schatz. “My bill will expand Social Security and put more money in the hands of seniors who rely on it, strengthen the program for the next generation of retirees, and make sure everyone pays into the system equally. After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve to retire with the dignity and benefits they have earned.”

In Hawai‘i, more than 280,000 people, or over 1 in 6 residents, rely on Social Security benefits. In 2040, the number of Hawai‘i seniors is expected to grow and make up more than 20 percent of the population, making the need to expand the program even more critical.

Specifically, the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act would:

  • Phase out the payroll tax cap so that payroll taxes apply fairly to every dollar of wages earned;
  • Adjust current benefits calculations to increase average monthly benefits by over $100;
  • Provide an additional 5% increase in benefits for older seniors to ensure they can make ends meet as their retirement savings are exhausted;
  • Guarantee a new minimum benefit so that lower income seniors receive enough to survive;
  • Provide a credit for caregivers that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits;
  • Ensure that any increase in benefits under this legislation would not harm an individual’s eligibility or cause a reduction in their SSI, Medicaid, or CHIP benefits;
  • Eliminate the waiting period for disability insurance and surviving spousal benefits;
  • Include an increase of 5.7% in the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) to extend the solvency of the Trust Fund to 2050; and
  • Update the annual cost of living adjustment to better reflect the real costs that seniors face through the use of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly.

“The Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act will make a world of difference for older Americans,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Because Senator Schatz’s bill requires the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share into Social Security, benefits will not only go up but cost-of-living adjustments will better reflect the things seniors spend their money on. This legislation will also strengthen the Social Security Trust Fund, ensuring that current and future generations will receive all the benefits they have earned through a lifetime of work.”

“Social Security Works enthusiastically endorses Senator Schatz’s Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act of 2021. This essential legislation substantially increases benefits for all current and future beneficiaries while ensuring that all benefits can be paid in full and on time for the foreseeable future. Through this visionary legislation, Senator Schatz demonstrates his keen understanding of how important Social Security is for all of us, as well as the need to expand these vital benefits. All of us should thank him for his tireless efforts to increase our economic security,” said Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works

The SAFE Social Security is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and is supported by the Strengthening Social Security Coalition, Social Security Works, the Alliance for Retired Americans, and the American Federation of Teachers.