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Social Security Recipients Anticipate Boost in Monthly Benefits

by Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

Oct 05, 2022

About 70 million Americans could soon see what some are predicting as a sizable increase in Social Security benefits for 2023, which would mean bigger checks for almost three million Pennsylvanians.

Advocates for seniors believe benefits could go up by more than 7%.

Harriet Ellenberger, communications organizer for the Pennsylvania Alliance of Retired Americans, said Keystone State retirees living on fixed incomes should, as a result, get assistance with prescription drugs, groceries and other living expenses.

“I understand it’s going to be at 8.6%,” Ellenberger stated. “Which comes out to a little, maybe $100, for some people. Seniors in Pennsylvania need to know that it’ll be in their check, probably in November, I would imagine.”

The largest cost-of-living hike to Social Security benefits was back in 1980, at 14.3%. While there are advocates for privatizing Social Security, the idea has been unpopular.

In June, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced the Social Security Expansion Act, to shore up the longer-term solvency of the program as more Americans reach retirement age.

The bill would increase the amount of a worker’s income subject to Social Security taxes to $250,000 a year.

Jon Bauman, president of Social Security Works’s political action committee, said increasing the cap is needed to keep the system healthy.

“Anyone making $147,000 a year or less is paying 6.2% into Social Security for their retirement security,” Bauman pointed out. “But many people don’t realize that nobody pays in one penny beyond $147,000 worth of income.”

In Pennsylvania, Ellenberger’s group agreed the income cap could be raised or even eliminated.

“If we stopped the cap on Social Security, or go above the cap and just have, ‘Everyone pays until, you know, for whatever money you make,’ we could be solvent for at least 75 more years,” Ellenberger contended.

Groups advocating for Social Security and Medicare emphasized the programs have kept more Americans out of poverty than any other government effort in history.

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