In the face of increasing pressure to avoid raising taxes or cutting Social Security benefits, U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Chris Coons (D-DE) have proposed legislation to help Americans plan for retirement and enhance retirement security by ensuring they have the information they need to make informed decisions regarding when to claim Social Security Benefits.
Currently, Social Security recipients can begin claiming benefits as early as age 62, but at a reduced rate. Typically, proposals to raise the retirement age call for leaving the minimum of 62 in place while gradually increasing the full retirement age. A study has uncovered that increasing the retirement age to 70 would cause a decrease of approximately 15% in Social Security payments for those who retire prior to the standard age. This would have a disproportionate impact on people in low-income and blue-collar jobs, who have lower life expectancies and would receive fewer years of retirement.
In addition to increasing the retirement age, the senators are advocating for the Social Security Administration to resume its previous practice of mailing paper statements to all future beneficiaries and to do so more frequently. If retirees decide to retire at 62, 70, or at any age in between, they will be given clear information on how much they will receive. The statements would be mailed regardless of whether someone has created an online Social Security account, and individuals would be able to opt out.
The senators are also proposing to change the terminology for how the claiming options are presented. The SSA should replace the phrases “early eligibility age,” “full retirement age,” and “delayed retirement credits,” with terms like “minimum benefit age,” “standard benefit age,” and “maximum benefit age.”
The bill would also repeal both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Those who have had employment in occupations without Social Security coverage and, concurrently, ones with Social Security contributions sufficient enough to be eligible for retirement benefits, are subject to the WEP. Officers in this position may have their Social Security benefit reduced by up to sixty percent (60%).
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