If you are dependent on Social Security or expect to be collecting benefits in coming years, you will want to ask your candidates how they stand on these issues and then vote in a way which will protect your financial security now and in the future.
How to Boost Social Security Now and Preserve It in the Future
1. Congress could gradually eliminate the cap on Social Security payroll contributions. Currently, only the first $118,500 in wages are subject to Social Security payroll withholding. Gradually lifting this cap would solve almost all of the problems we have with the future insolvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.
2. The Social Security Administration could slowly increase the payroll contribution rate by 1/20th of one percent over the next 20 years, so that after 20 years it will only have been increased by one percent. This will help strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren.
3. Slightly boost contributions to Social Security by treating all salary reduction plans the same. This means that payroll taxes would be collected on the money which goes into flexible spending accounting, HSAs, or dependent care plans, just as it on 401(k)s.
4. Boost the current basic benefit for all current and future retirees by $50 to $70 a month. This may not seem like much, but many Social Security beneficiaries did not see a meaningful increase in their benefits for several of the past few years. This would help the millions of Americans who depend on Social Security for all or most of their retirement income.
5. Give Social Security credits to unpaid caregivers. Currently, people who have been out of the workforce to care for young children, elderly parents, or disabled family members are never able to catch up for the years they lost while out of the workforce. As a result, they receive significantly less in Social Security benefits when they reach retirement age. Providing these unpaid caregivers with five years of Social Security credits could help boost their benefits and protect caregivers from poverty in their later years.
6. Use a better calculation for Social Security's annual cost of living adjustment. Currently, the Social Security Administration uses the CPI-W, which is based on the spending habits of urban wage earners. However, it would be more fair to switch to the CPI-E, which is based on the spending habits of the elderly, who spend more on certain expenses such as medical care. This would make it easier for senior citizens to keep pace with inflation. We especially DO NOT want the chained-CPI which would be the worst possible choice for senior citizens and would cause even more of them to fall into poverty.
Ask Candidates About Other Issues of Importance to Retirees
If you attend a candidate forum or town hall meeting, which I hope you will, other questions you will want to ask the candidates are about Medicare and Medicaid. You may also want to read last week's blog post titled, "Vote for Lower Prescription Drug Prices." which explains how Congress could lower the cost of our prescriptions with a few changes to the law. Also ask your candidates about the following important issues:
* Do you want to expand Medicaid or do the opposite and make it more difficult to qualify for it?
* Do you want to protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing their insurance?
* Do you believe in the "age tax" which is when consumers pay higher insurance rates based on their age?
In addition, you may want to ask them about other retirement questions such as:
* Do you believe in improving automatic retirement savings programs for people who do not have a 401(k) available to them through their jobs?
* How do you feel about taxation of retirement income and Social Security?
* What do you think should be done to strengthen pension funds?
* What can be done to protect senior citizens from being victims of fraud and scams?
Several of the above issues, especially those regarding Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, will probably be dealt with simultaneously in one package deal. As a result, it is important to ask the candidates of both parties in your area how they plan to deal with these problems. The more you know, the easier it will be to make an informed decision when you vote.
Rather than voting based on a political party, vote to protect the programs which you will depend on during your retirement. In other words, vote for your self-interest and to protect the senior citizens in your family. That is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate reason to decide how you will vote, rather than automatically voting for one party or the other. In addition, follow up with your Senators and representatives after the election to make sure they continue to work towards keeping their promises!
One way to follow what your members of Congress are doing is to follow a non-partisan site like Countable.us, which will send you daily updates on votes being taken in Congress and will let your know how your Senator and the representative from your district voted. It is a free and easy way to stay informed about issues important to you.
You can get more information about the issues, register to vote, or apply for an absentee ballot at: votingtool.aarp.org
You can also learn more about important issues at: countable.us, votesmart.org, RealClearPolitics.com, Ballotpedia.org and PolitiFact.com.
Learn more about preserving Social Security and Medicare at: https://www.ncpssm.org/
If you would like more information about Medicare, Social Security, common medical problems as you age, financial planning, where to retire, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.
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