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Friday, October 30, 2015

Congress is Gutting Social Security Benefits!!

By now it seems to be common knowledge that Congress is intent on "fixing" the Social Security "loopholes" created by themselves with the obnoxiously titled "Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 2000" (what we really need is a bill titled "Congressional Freedom to Resign Act of 2016").
The "Bipartisan Kumbaya* Budget Act of 2015" aims to eliminate benefit timing strategies** for married couples.  The reasoning is essentially two-fold (1) It is primarily the "wealthy" who take advantage of these strategies.  Therefore eliminating them won't hurt the poor.  And (2) This needs to be done to protect the solvency of Social Security.  Here are my random thoughts about that reasoning:

  • If regulations allowed Social Security employees to demonstrate timing options to new beneficiaries, more lower income folks would probably take advantage of them.  The issue isn't wealth as much as it is which people are able to get expert advice.
  • I've ceased being amazed at how easily so-called business & public policy experts sidestep the revenue half of the Social Security equation.  If they were on the board of a private corporation and budget shortfalls loomed, they would be asking "How can we increase revenue?"
  • Social Security is not part of the budget!  It is a separate insurance program funded separately by separate payments from workers.  Separate.  If they're seeking budget solutions, they should be looking at the budget.
The title of this post Congress is Gutting Social Security Benefits!! is a myth because the new provisions are more like a slap to the face of retirees than a genuine evisceration.  The key is, this law is not in effect for six months.  There is still time to appeal to your Senators and Representatives to truly enhance Social Security.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

*Just kidding.  The term "Bipartisan" is an attempt to imply a nonexistent legislative hug fest.  Title VIII of the act will be magnanimously named the "Social Security Benefit Protection and Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2015".  I'm not making that up.  I'll go through the details of Title VIII in another post.
**Most notably, the rather terse Subtitle C, Sec. 831 "Closure of Unintended Loopholes".

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