The 2020 Presidential Candidates’ Proposed Changes to Social Security

Jan 21, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Everyone can agree that the Social Security program is in trouble. By approximately 2035, the trust fund will run out and only 80% of benefits can be paid. But that’s still 15 years away, and Congress isn’t likely to do anything about it soon. That doesn’t stop the 2020 presidential candidates from having opinions about various changes to Social Security. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has rounded them all up in a helpful chart.

The chart is divided into 4 main sections of proposed changes: benefit reductions, revenue increases, benefit increases, and revenue reductions. By far the most popular changes are an increase to the payroll tax cap, an increase in the minimum benefit, and the creation of a caregiver credit. Only one candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, proposes raising the threshold for tax on benefits.

A series of asterisks at the bottom explains other changes that do not fit so easily into those categories. Joe Biden proposes allowing teachers who are not eligible for Social Security to begin receiving benefits sooner than the current 10-year period and eliminating the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset so that some public sector workers would get enhanced Social Security benefits. Bernie Sanders would restore survivor benefits for full-time students up to age 22. Elizabeth Warren would eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset so that some public sector workers would get enhanced Social Security benefits, allow full-time students to collect Social Security survivor benefits through age 24, allow workers in job training and apprenticeship programs to exclude up to three years in these programs from their Social Security earnings calculation, and repeal a provision that allows self-employed workers to reclassify their income to avoid paying payroll tax. Andrew Yang proposes providing a $1,000 monthly universal basic income, which would supplement Social Security benefits.

Notably, none of the Repulican candidates have propsed any changes to the retirement system, although the Trump Administration has proposed some changes that would affect the disability portion of the Social Security program.

You can find the chart here.


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