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The media in the U.S. is reporting that possible legislation from the House of Representatives could potentially cut Social Security benefits, but, that may not be the full story.

The legislation that the House is looking to pass is bill H.R.5779 – Fiscal Commission Act of 2023.

The Fiscal Commission Act of 2023 is calling for the creation of a 4 person commission that will design a pathway to a balanced budget “at the earliest reasonable date.”

The requirements of this commission will be to “stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at or below 100% by the end of the 10-year period”.

As of the 3rd Quarter of 2023, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve that U.S. debt-to-GDP is at 120.13%. Meaning that the U.S. is spending well more than what it is taking in.

Is the Fiscal Commission going to be all Republicans?

The construction of the commission, according to the bill, will consist of “3 individuals from among the members of the Senate, and 1 outside expert”.

The Senate Majority Leader, Charles (Chuck) Schumer, will have the responsibility of selecting all members of the commission.

Yes, this is a Republican bill, but the power and control this bill will create will reside within the confines of the Senate Majority Leader and only that person, which until the next election is going to be a Democrat.

Will this commission begin cutting Social Security benefits?

There is nothing specific within the Act to Social Security nor is there any mention of cuts, cutting or even the word cut throughout the entire bill.

Again, the bill from the House is simply requesting that the Senate Majority Leader hand select 4 individuals to devise a plan on how to bring down the country’s debt.

Are Social Security benefits going to be cut?

According to the Social Security Board of Trustees (SSBT), the Social Security program has enough funding to continue benefits as they are today through at least 2034.

However, the Trustee are also reporting that the program’s operating expenses will increase by 5.42% annually while the payroll tax revenue to fund it will only grow by 3.80% over the next 9 years.

Coupling this issue is the demographics within the United States as the Trustees are also stating that the country’s fertility rate will only be 1.99% going forward.

This means that the current Social Security program is in the death spiral of having more and more people aging into the program while less and less people are taking their place to fund the benefits.

Eventually, when it comes to the Social Security benefits, something has to give as it appears that there just won’t be enough revenue from taxes to continue to paying out the same amounts when it comes to benefits.

But, again, there is nothing in this bill that even suggests that Congress will be cutting Social Security benefits.

IRMAA may be able save the Social Security program.

By law Social Security benefits automatically pay Medicare premiums on a monthly basis.

Medicare also has a tax on income through Medicare’s Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).

IRMAA is simply a surcharge that is added to a retiree’s Part B and or Part D premium if they are earning too much income.

Currently, you have to qualify for IRMAA by generating $103,000 in income a year if you are an individual and $206,000 for couples.

The more income you generate after these initial qualifying points the higher the chances that your Medicare premiums increase even higher.

Saving the Social Security program or at least lowering the obligations of the program can literally just come down to changing the IRMAA qualifications.

By increasing the Medicare premiums of more and more retirees Social Security will have to pay out less and less on an annual basis.

Granted, money will still have to leave the coffers of Social Security and go into Medicare, but the good news is that Social Security controls the wallet of Medicare.

Conclusion to “Is Congress Cutting Social Security Benefits?”

Whether Congress cuts Social Security or not the latest legislation that media is focusing on is suggesting that Congress will not be cutting Social Security benefits.

The Fiscal Commission Act is just trying to create a panel that will provide ways to reduce the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio.

Today, the U.S. debt-to-GDP, according to the Federal Reserves in St. Louis, is over 120% and it needs to be under 100% for the economy to continue humming along.

Social Security has enough funding to continue through 2034, but mis-management by the government and a shortage of people in the U.S. dictates that at some point cuts will have to be made.

To learn more about IRMAA and the impact it will have on Social Security we invite you to contact an IRMAA Certified Planner in your area.

Dan McGrath