Social Security Isn’t an Entitlement
Dear Friends –
Social Security is our nation’s most successful insurance program. For 80+ years, Social Security has been a promise to all Americans that they would have a chance to retire with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. We have an obligation to not only to keep that promise, but to strengthen and expand Social Security for our seniors and for future generations. As the lead Democrat on the Social Security Subcommittee of the Way and Means Committee, I would like to share some of the initiatives I have been working on to do just that.
I am proud to have introduced the Social Security 2100 Act: a plan that will expand and protect Social Security through the end of the century, provide a benefit increase to current and future recipients, improve the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to better reflect the rising costs that seniors face, and prevent seniors from retiring into poverty by increasing the minimum benefit for those that have paid into the system.
I also worked with the Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) on the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017, which recently passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and is now awaiting the President’s signature to become a law. This bill will provide important protections for the approximately 8 million most vulnerable Social Security beneficiaries who are appointed a representative payee to help manage their benefits if they are unable to do so themselves.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has also seen a severe lack of operational funding that goes towards hiring staff to help beneficiaries in field offices, for disability applicants, and through their 1-800 helplines. As a result, beneficiaries have faced serious delays in receiving assistance and an average disability hearings backlog of 600 days. There are currently 1 million people waiting for a hearing and sadly, some people will die waiting for their earned benefits. This is unacceptable, and that is why I, along with Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) sent a joint letter to the President in February demanding an increase in funding to the SSA. I was proud to help secure a $480 million increase for the Social Security Administration in FY2018, that will help ease some of these delays.
The success and popularity of Social Security unfortunately hasn’t stopped opponents of the program from attempts to undermine the system. All too often, the other side of the aisle refers to Social Security as an “entitlement”. That is simply wrong – it’s the insurance Americans have paid for to fund retirement, disability, and survivor benefits through a lifetime of work. I recently spoke up in the Ways and Means Committee to defend the program.
After visiting senior centers in Newington, Wethersfield and West Hartford, my conversations with our local seniors further confirmed the importance of this vital program and why we need to continue to expand and enhance Social Security, and fight any cuts. Our seniors shouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet or made to feel like a burden. Social Security is about allowing today’s seniors and future generations to retire with dignity and I will continue to fight to protect the benefits you have earned.