Social Security head warns against raising retirement age after GOP proposal

Social Security head warns against raising retirement age after GOP proposal

Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Martin O’Malley warned that raising the retirement age for the program would disproportionately hurt blue-collar workers, the day after the Republican Study Committee (RSC) released a proposal to raise the age.

The RSC, which comprises nearly 80 percent of House Republicans, released a budget  proposal Wednesday that would raise the age of Social Security eligibility “to account for increases in life expectancy,” though it did not provide specifics. The current full retirement age for the program is 67.

“[Americans] want their government to strengthen [Social Security] and expand it — not to cut it, contract it or gut its customer service,” O’Malley said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday.

“For those who would advocate raising the age, I think we have to be mindful of people who do hard work their whole lives, and die sooner,” he said.

Democratic lawmakers slammed the RSC budget proposal.

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that Americans should be forced to work till they drop dead,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said.

“Underfunding of SSA is an attack on hard-working Americans and their earned benefits — this is no entitlement, but earned benefits,” Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said.

Republicans largely avoided the topic during the hearing.

The RSC proposal noted President Biden supported raising the age from 65 to 67 when he was a senator in the 1980s. It said action on Social Security was again necessary given projections that the program will be insolvent within a decade under the status quo.

“With insolvency approaching in the 10-year budget window, Congress has a moral and practical obligation to address the problems with Social Security,” according to the RSC proposal.

Biden has proposed raising payroll taxes on Americans earning more than $400,000 in order to keep the program fully funded.

O’Malley on Thursday also endorsed Biden’s calls for guaranteed 12-week paid leave for lower paid workers.

“It’s not right that we are one of the most developed economies in the world and yet one of very few that does not have paid family leave,” he said.

Biden tapped O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, for Social Security commissioner in December.

Biden has proposed increasing SSA’s discretionary budget to $15.4 billion — an increase of $1.3 billion — to remedy the agency’s administrative struggles, like maintaining staff and a backlog in disability status applications.

“It’s been 9 years since Congress has given SSA a budget hearing, and in those 9 years it’s been a decline in service SSA provides,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley called on the committee to pass President Biden’s proposed investment into SSA, which he called “a solid step forward.”

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