PVA testifies before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee
By PVA National Staff
On April 10, PVA Deputy Executive Director Shaun Castle testified before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee at a hearing exploring legislative proposals to strengthen and preserve the Social Security system. Among other witnesses were representatives from the National Taxpayers Union, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and Social Security Works, along with Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration and Dianne Stone, Director of the Newington (CT) Senior and Disability Center.
In its written testimony, PVA stressed the importance of Social Security to over nine million veterans currently receiving benefits – whether retirement or disability – and noted that veterans and their families comprise over one-third of the beneficiary population. Mr. Castle relayed his personal story about the positive impact that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) had on his life and outlined PVA’s support for the Social Security 2100 Act, HR 860. Provisions that he highlighted in his statement to the Subcommittee were those that would establish a more realistic cost-of-living-adjustment for beneficiaries, strengthen protections for low-income workers, cut taxes on benefits for nearly twelve million beneficiaries and make long overdue adjustments in the financing mechanisms for the system. Social Security actuaries have determined that this bill will ensure the long-term solvency of the trust funds without the need for cuts or changes that could harm beneficiaries.
Chief Actuary Goss reminded the Subcommittee that Social Security will be able to pay benefits in full through approximately 2034, but will begin experiencing a shortfall in revenues after that time, which must be addressed by Congress or benefits will be cut. Nancy Altman with Social Security Works and Max Richtman with NCPSSM detailed numerous polling data showing widespread, bipartisan support for improving Social Security and opposition to measures that reduce benefits or raise the retirement age. Mattie Duppler with the Taxpayers Union cautioned against proposals that would lift the cap on income [currently set at $132,900] against which the Social Security payroll tax applies or that would phase-in slight increases in the payroll contribution rate.
During the question and answer period, there was considerable discussion around the impact that financing changes could have on the Millennial generation, which is now entering its prime working years. Some members of the Subcommittee were concerned that increasing the payroll tax by 50 cents a week over 20 years or applying that tax to earnings above $400,000 could dampen the savings rate among younger workers. Other members of the Subcommittee countered that the survivor, disability, and inflation-protected retirement benefits of Social Security were worth those additional investments.
This hearing was the third in a series of hearings into the value, benefits, and future of Social Security. Information about the hearing and witness testimony can be found here.