How Bill Expanding Social Security Benefits Federal Employees

Categories: The Insider

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon have introduced legislation that would increase Social Security benefits for American seniors, including retiring federal employees.  


Social Security is one of our nation’s most successful and popular government programs. It has played a crucial role in lifting Americans out of poverty. Before Social Security was created, about half of America’s seniors lived in poverty. Today, the senior poverty rate is 8.8%. Yet 1 in 5 seniors are trying to survive on less than $13,500 a year. In addition, half of Americans 55 and older have no retirement savings.   


Sanders and DeFazio’s bill would expand benefits by:  

  • Increase retirement benefits across the board. For seniors making less than $16,000 a year, the increase would amount to approximately $1,300 a year.  
  • Increase Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLAs) by more accurately measuring the spending patterns of seniors.  
  • Restore student benefits up to age 22 for children of disabled or deceased workers eligible for old-age benefits if the child is a full-time student in a college or vocational school. Currently, only those under 19 receive student benefits. 


The bill would pay for the expansion by lifting the earnings cap on Social Security taxes. Because of the earnings cap on Social Security taxes, a CEO making $20 million a year pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $132,900 a year. This bill would lift the cap and subject all income above $250,000 to the Social Security payroll tax. 


“In my humble opinion, a great nation is not judged historically by the number of billionaires it has or by the number of nuclear weapons it has. It is judged by how it treats the weakest and most vulnerable people among us,” Sen. Sanders said at the launch of the bill earlier this month.  


Sen. Sanders criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for giving away tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations while proposing to cut Social Security benefits for everyone else in the country. 


Expanding Social Security would benefit federal employees as most of them are now covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and pay into Social Security.  


“AFGE supports this legislation wholeheartedly. This is an earned benefit. All of us pay into Social Security. It’s part of our retirement!” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. told the cheering crowd at the bill launch. 


NP Cox would know how important Social Security is to American families. He received Social Security when he was only six years old because his father had passed away. Cox supports scrapping the cap and fully funding the Social Security Administration so SSA employees can do their jobs providing important earned benefits for Americans. 


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