I read an article recently that referred to the Social Security Trustee’s Report for 2014. Apparently the Social Security Trust Fund had a surplus of several billion dollars during 2014 and that surplus is expected to increase over the next several decades.
The report stated that the surplus was large enough to expand the current Social Security program to include paid sick leave as well as paid maternity leave plus increase benefit payments without even changing the funding coming in. They also mentioned however that if we were to eliminate the wage cap or even raise it to $250,000 (it is currently around I believe $115,000 meaning that any wages earned in excess of $115,000 are not subject to Social Security or F.I.C.A. Taxes) that we could expand the program to the point of allowing retirees and those who are disabled a reasonable living income rather than the skimpy, almost poverty level benefits now paid out.
Another issue that is going to be rearing it’s ugly head after 2016 is the 20% disability benefit CUT planned by the House. The Social Security Trust Fund consists of two separate trusts currently, one for retirement and one for disability benefits. Supposedly the disability trust is about to go broke and will run out of funds by the end of next year (2016) meaning that the benefits will be paid out of whatever current funds that are coming in from current taxes. Because of this shortage congress says that they will be “forced” to cut disability benefits by approximately 20%, which will mean a big financial hit for disabled persons. This is an artificial crisis however created by the repukes and teabaggers to make it appear that Social Security is going broke when according to the Trustee’s Report the exact opposite situation exists. This has happened before with both trust funds. Occasionally expenses will temporarily increase for one of the two funds so all they have to do is to borrow from one to boost the funds in the other or in this case borrow from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund then when payments from the disability fund decrease or taxes coming in increase they simply pay back the funds borrowed from the retirement fund. However the republicans in the House are refusing to do this and thus forcing a large and painful benefit cut to the people who must rely on SSDI to survive.
Social Security is indeed a life saver for a lot of folks. I happen to be one of those who must rely on the disability income to live on. I paid into the system for forty years and took a huge pay cut when I was forced to file for disability insurance. I am grateful that Social Security exists but compared to other countries it is quite miserly. I am getting the maximum benefit allowed and still live very close to the poverty level. There isn’t even enough income to live in my own apartment alone anywhere in the U.S. much less pay for utilities, insurance, a vehicle, food, and medicine. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic that billionaires such as Pete Peterson (his apparent goal in life is to kill Social Security) who have more money than they could use living in the lap of luxury for a thousand lifetimes much less come close to even making a dent in during one lifetime, work so hard to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their first $115,000 of income every year. I simply cannot comprehend how someone who has so much could try to cheat those who can barely afford to eat out of their safety net, but unfortunately they do. Frankly I believe it is way past time to eliminate the tax cap on Social Security and replace it with a progressive tax similar to what the progressive income tax was under President Eisenhower. That could serve two purposes…the first being to provide ample funds so that those who have either worked themselves to death all of their lives to make the rich even richer or become disabled doing so can live a decent life as well as contribute to the well being of the economy and second being to act as a punishment for the extreme greed and selfishness displayed by these rich assholes. Of course we need to do the same with a progressive income tax as well so we can repair our depleted infrastructure, pay off all of our stupid wars used by the rich to steal resources and topple unfavorable nation’s governments as well as trying to repair the environmental damage caused by the plundering of the planet’s natural resources by these very same greed pigs in their endless quest for ever more money and power…but that’s another arguement.