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Congressman John Larson

Representing the 1st District of Connecticut

Larson Chairs Hearing on Social Security Benefit Enhancements

March 13, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chairman John B. Larson (CT-01) chaired the second in a series of hearings focused on protecting and improving Social Security. This hearing was focused on enhancing Social Security benefits. Larson’s opening statement can be found here.

“Social Security is the working American’s retirement guarantee. It is the floor for their retirement savings, and many seniors heavily rely on it. For nearly two-thirds it represents the majority of their retirement income. That’s why we need to enhance benefits, so that no one who has worked their whole life can retire into poverty. The Social Security 2100 Act will strengthen this guarantee and allow seniors to retire with dignity, by providing stronger benefits for them,” said Larson.

Additional information on the Social Security 2100 Act can be found here.

Max Richtman, the President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, testified at today’s hearing saying: “We believe there is a consensus supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans to close Social Security’s modest funding gap and improve Social Security benefits. It is also important that any plan strike the right balance between the overall financial needs of the program and the specific needs that still exist for strengthening the protections that Social Security provides.”

Bette Marafino, the State President of the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, spoke about the importance of Social Security to Connecticut residents in her testimony: “Social Security is a sound economic investment. If seniors can live in dignity, the entire community benefits. Every August the Connecticut Alliance celebrates Social Security’s birthday with a party at a senior center. This summer we will celebrate Social Security’s 84th, and we hope to have many, many more.”

Abigail Zapote, the Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement, testified on the importance of enhancing Social Security benefits for Latinos, stating, “In 2018, the average annual benefit for seniors was $16,956. These benefits are far from generous. Yet, for Latinos, these benefits are lower and even more critical for their livelihood. The average 2016 benefit for Latino men was $14,708 and only $12,260 for Latina women. These Social Security benefits comprise nearly all the income for more than half, 57.5 percent, of Latino elderly households and represent 74.2 percent of the total income of Latino elderly households receiving benefits. Without Social Security, the elderly Latino poverty rate would increase from roughly 1 out of 6 (17.9 percent) to 1 out of 2 (50.7 percent). Latinos depend on Social Security more than other groups because they tend to have lower lifetime income, longer life expectancies, higher incidence of disability and larger families.”

Joan Entmacher, a Senior Fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance, testified on how benefit enhancements could help women, saying: “Social Security is the foundation of retirement security for most Americans, but it is especially important for women. Women rely more on income from Social Security than men do, even though women’s Social Security benefits are lower. . . . Adjusting the regular benefit formula to make it more progressive would increase benefits for all workers, but lower lifetime earners, including women and people of color, would receive the largest percentage increases.”

Donna Butts, the Executive Director of Generations United, spoke about the importance of Social Security for all generations in her testimony: “For more than 80 years Social Security has been the premier example of a policy designed to secure and insure the well-being of individuals and their families. In addition to its well-known role in providing retirement security, the program provides many essential protections for people of all ages including Disability Insurance and Survivors’ Insurance. For many it makes the difference between putting food on the table and deciding whether grandma or junior eat tonight.”