WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, released an official Committee report on Social Security. The report outlines the challenges currently facing America’s retirement program and highlights options for addressing program solvency, benefit adequacy, and retirement income security for economically-vulnerable groups. Emphasizing that a majority of America’s seniors rely on Social Security as their primary source of income, the report calls on Congress to enact modest changes to Social Security in the near future to bring its long-term financing into balance and improve benefits for those who need them most.
“This report shows that, contrary to popular belief, the sky is absolutely not falling for Social Security. By implementing one or more of these modest changes, we can ensure solvency and even strengthen benefits for those who count on their monthly check the most,” said Chairman Kohl.
Copies of the report were delivered to all eighteen members of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Many of the Commission’s members have publicly mentioned their interest in addressing Social Security as part of their work to reduce the federal deficit.
“Social Security has never been responsible for one penny of the federal deficit, and by law is barred from doing so. In fact, it has been in surplus every year since its inception. If the Commission chooses to take a look at the program, it is my hope that they find our Aging Committee report of use,”
The report points out that the nation’s demographics have changed significantly since the Social Security program began in 1935. Americans are living longer, women’s participation in the labor force has significantly increased, and with a rise in the divorce rate, household composition has changed. The labor force is also growing more slowly and with fewer companies offering pensions, the nature of work and compensation has altered in ways that affect workers’ ability to save for retirement. Therefore, in addition to improving solvency, any future reforms to the program should take into account America’s evolving demographics in order to ensure that benefits are adequate and equitable for generations to come.
The report includes an important disclaimer that the options laid out represent a range of commonly-considered proposals, and that none of them should be construed as having been endorsed by the Committee or its members. In the foreword, Chairman Kohl asserts: “Many members of the Committee, including myself, do not support and actively oppose many of the options. However, a full and informed debate begins with the collection of research and information, and it is our hope that this report will serve as a resource to Congress and policymakers as they discuss ways to ensure that Social Security will remain strong for another 75 years.”
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A link to the Committee report is available here