Begich To Introduce Social Security Legislation

Senator Mark Begich plans to introduce two bills related to social security by next Monday. Begich met with leaders of Alaska organizations today (Thursday) in Anchorage to gauge their concerns and to announce his plan. The Senator says the conversation on social security will come before Congress by June, and now is the time to make changes that will strengthen social security benefits, not curtail them.

“I think there is a lot of interest that has been generated over the last couple of years. And now we are seeing people really talking more about it. And as we move to issues of the budget and a long term budget plan for the federal government, Social Security is part of the equation, and figuring this out and solving this. “

 Begich plans to introduce the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act and the Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 when he returns to Washington, DC next week. He says his plan has three points. The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act would remove a cap on high income contributions. The cap is now at 113,700 dollars. Removing the cap would make high income earners pay into Social Security just like everyone else, he says.

  “Right now the social security tax is capped. So if you make more than 113,000 dollars you’re not paying any more into it after that point. And what we want to do it match it like Medicare, so everyone pays in and everyone does receive a benefit. It just means, the more you make, you might not get as much of a benefit, but you still pay into it. And it is an earned benefit. This will create sustainability for up to another 75 years for Social Security, which is the right way to solve this problem. “

 The second part of that bill would revise how SS payments are adjusted to better reflect how America’s senior spend their income. Currently, payments are based on a Consumer Price Index model that does not accurately reflect higher costs seniors pay, for medications, for example. The bill would create a CPI – E for elders.

The Social Security Fairness Act would remove penalties that are now placed on retirees who worked more than one job, paid into Social Security, but then retired under a different retirement system. Under current law, they are denied their Social Security benefits Many government workers and some teachers in Alaska fall into this category. Workers like Jeanae  Sears

 “When I retired four years ago on June 1, with 43 years, I lost forty five percent of my base pay right then. That’s why I am so adamant about fairness. “

 She says she draws a Civil Service retirement system pension, and is not allowed her full Social Security benefits because of the present Government Pension Offset program .

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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