East Hawaii News

Schatz Works to Expand Social Security

August 13, 2015, 4:23 PM HST
* Updated August 13, 4:24 PM
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Nearly 80 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, and now, Senator Brian Schatz is working to ensure that seniors are receiving the proper benefits from the Social Security program.

Last week, Senator Schatz introduced the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act, which would provide expanded Social Security for seniors and families not only in Hawai’i, but across the country.

Benefits would increase by $65 per month under the act. Also included is that cost of living adjustments would fairly reflect the living expenses of retirees, the life of the trust fund would be extended, and the wage cap would be removed to make sure that Americans contribute equally across the board.

“In Hawai‘i, more than 250,000 people depend on Social Security, the most successful safety net program in American history,” said Senator Schatz. “With the number of retirees growing, we need to do everything we can to strengthen it.  Our legislation would expand Social Security and put more money in the hands of seniors who rely on it, strengthen the program for the next generation of retirees, and make sure everyone pays into the system equally.  After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve to retire with the dignity and benefits they have earned.”

More than 250,000, or one in six, Hawai’i residents rely on Social Security benefits, according to officials. By 2040, officials say the number of Hawai’i seniors is expected to grow and become more than 20 percent of the population.

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The Social Security Works, the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, the Alliance for Retired Americans, AFL-CIO, and the Kokua Council have all supported the legislation.

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“We applaud Senator Brian Schatz for introducing the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act, which increases Social Security’s modest benefits, including those of seniors, people with disabilities, children who are orphaned and others,” said Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works.  “In addition, by proposing a much more accurate cost of living adjustment, the legislation ensures that Social Security’s modest benefits will not erode over time.”

Richard Fiesta, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans said, “The Alliance for Retired Americans enthusiastically supports the Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act, introduced today by Senator Brian Schatz of Hawai‘i, which will help address the nation’s retirement crisis.

“Sixty-two percent of households aged 55-64 have saved less than one times their annual salary, not nearly enough to sustain a family. The Safeguarding American Families and Expanding Social Security Act will increase monthly payments for current retirees, base payments on the real costs seniors face when calculating benefits and make the Social Security system solvent for decades to come.”

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