It's been an incredibly challenging year not just for the U.S. economy, but for Social Security. The program, which was facing a serious financial shortfall before the coronavirus pandemic began, has lost millions of dollars in payroll tax revenue due to unprecedented levels of unemployment.
Back in April, the Social Security Trustees projected that benefit cuts may be on the table as early as 2035 if lawmakers don't come up with a way to pump more money into the program, and now, that dangerous milestone may happen sooner, especially if our current recession drags on. It's for this reason that so many seniors are now banking on Joe Biden to swoop in and rescue Social Security. Thankfully, the president-elect has a plan that could help prevent benefit cuts and strengthen Social Security for future generations.
Will Biden drag Social Security out of its financial hole?
Joe Biden has a number of specific proposals designed to save Social Security -- and prevent the seniors who rely on it from losing out on much-needed income. For one thing, he wants to impose added Social Security taxes on people with earnings of over $400,000.
Right now, workers only pay Social Security tax on their first $137,700 of income. In 2021, this threshold is increasing to $142,800. Biden, however, plans to reinstate that tax once wages exceed $400,000, and that alone could pump a substantial amount of revenue into the program, thereby potentially preventing benefit cuts or, at the very least, delaying them.
Biden has some other Social Security-related proposals as well. He wants to implement a higher minimum monthly benefit, increase survivors benefits, and change the way Social Security's cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are calculated. In recent years, COLAs have been notably stingy, and the reason boils down to an inherent flaw in how they're arrived at -- something Biden hopes to fix so that seniors don't continue to lose buying power as inflation rears its ugly head. While these plans won't result in added revenue for the program the same way increased Social Security taxes will, they're notable because their goal is to help ensure that Social Security provides the most value and financial support for the seniors who need it the most.
Biden can't do it alone
Of course, even as president, Biden can't operate in a bubble. He'll still need the support of the Senate to pass his Social Security proposals, and whether lawmakers agree to them is questionable.
Still, Biden's overall Social Security plan is something current and future retirees should be thankful for. Since 2020, the program's beneficiaries have lost an astounding 30% of their buying power, and with healthcare inflation continuing to outpace COLAs, it's clear that Social Security reform is desperately needed. The program also needs a serious cash infusion to prevent benefit cuts from happening within the next decade and a half. Joe Biden may not succeed in saving Social Security, but it's clear that he's at least committed to bringing the program closer to solvency.