Changes in Social Security Republicans Claim They Want to Enact

Submitted by Elizabeth on

Will Social Security run out? One of the hot-button issues for both Democrats and Republicans as a result of the Midterm Elections is Social Security reform. Both parties want to make changes to the existing structure of Social Security because, as it currently stands, the program will be depleted in less than 20 years. However, both parties have very different ideas of what changes need to be made to keep Social Security viable. 


Social Security is a social safety net that was created by the Social Security Act of 1935 by our President Roosevelt. The original purpose of Social Security was to ensure that, as people get older and can no longer work, they would still have income that they could rely on to pay for their living expenses. Everyone who works pays into Social Security through taxes on their income throughout their career. And once people reach a certain set age, they can start drawing benefits. 


But, as people have started living longer and the cost of living has skyrocketed, the demand for Social Security has increased to the point where the current system is in trouble. Right now, given the current age of retirement, benefit amount, and system framework, Social Security will be out of money by 2034. That is why both Republicans and Democrats are in a race to overhaul Social Security to make sure that it continues to provide the benefits that seniors need to survive. 

The Current State of Social Security

Currently, seniors who want to retire can draw their Social Security benefit as early as age 62. But the amount of the benefit that you get is lower than the full benefit. In order to get the full benefit, you must wait until you are 67 to start drawing benefits. One of the proposed changes to help shore up the Social Security program is to extend the full age of retirement to 70. That would mean that you would not be able to get your full Social Security benefit unless you waited until age 70 to start drawing benefits. 


The Political Landscape

The Midterm elections exposed some serious rifts between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to Social Security and Social Security reform. The Republicans vow to cut Social Security, while the Democrats want to preserve it. Mike Pence, along with the Republican Study Committee and the Center for Retirement Research have been advocates for making cuts. 

But the majority of Americans don’t want any cuts to be made to Social Security, and they definitely don’t want the program to sunset, which is what GOP Senator Rick Scott proposed last year. Senator Scott sponsored legislation that would require all Federal programs, including Social Security, to sunset every five years unless specific conditions were met.

That plan is not popular with either political party, and definitely not with the American people. Most people have been paying into Social Security since they started working and they are depending on Social Security benefits to help fund their retirement. 

Policy Proposals

There are a number of proposals working their way through both sides of the political aisle as both parties try to make changes to Social Security without causing too much of an uproar among voters. 

Republicans largely want to reduce spending by cutting Social Security benefits and increasing the full retirement age to 70. But even the staunchest Republicans are advising Congress against making cuts. Even former President Trump issued a statement saying that no cuts should be made to Social Security. Congress has a real fight brewing between parties as they debate the best path forward for Social Security. 

On the other side of the aisle, Senator Bernie Sanders SSD-benefits.pnghas proposed a plan that would increase the amount of the full Social Security benefit by $200 and fund the program for another 75 years. To achieve this, Senator Sanders proposed increasing a portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that currently helps fund Social Security. 

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Social Security for most Americans. In the current economic climate where inflation is at record highs and many people are struggling—especially seniors—cutting Social Security would result in seniors not having enough money to pay for necessities like housing and food. 

When both healthcare costs as well as living expenses are considered, the financial situation for seniors becomes untenable. And younger workers cannot be expected to pay into a system that will use their money to pay benefits to current Social Security recipients knowing there won’t be any money left for them when it is their tun.

Nonetheless, the real victims of any proposed Republican cuts to Social Security are people who already receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or disability benefits via the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. For these individuals who are unable to save money for retirement because they cannot work, Social Security is the only lifeline they will have as seniors to pay for their housing, food, and other expenses. 

On top of this, seniors are already considered to be an extremely vulnerable population. More than 60% of seniors are malnourished or experience food insecurity. So, if Social Security gets cut, those seniors will likely have to go without food, medicine, and, in some cases, essentials like housing. 

A balanced budget and fiscal responsibility do matter, but they don’t matter more than the lives of senior Americans and those on SSDI who depend on Social Security for survival.  


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