The seniors who joined Rep. Louise Slaughter on Thursday to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the first Social Security benefit payment were mere youngsters when it was issued.
Slaughter reaffirmed her commitment to protecting retirees by commemorating the occasion at a ceremony at Legacy at Erie Station Independent Senior Living Community in Henrietta.
On Jan. 31, 1940, the first United States Social Security check — for $22.54 — was issued to a retired wage earner named Ida May Fuller who lived in Ludlow, Vt. Before Social Security, more than half of all seniors lived in poverty. Today, it is less than 10 percent.
“There are some in Congress who want to decrease Social Security benefits in the name of balancing our budget,” Slaughter said in a release. “I will remind them that Social Security doesn’t add a dime to the federal deficit and that the money in Social Security belongs to present and future retirees.”
In 2005, Slaughter helped lead the effort against privatization of Social Security benefits, a move that would have subjected seniors’ hard-earned retirement benefits to the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.
Instead of cutting benefits, Slaughter has sponsored legislation to lift the $113,700 cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes. Nearly 95 percent of Americans pay Social Security tax on all of their income but the wealthiest 5.2 percent — with incomes of more than $113,700 — are exempt.
Under the legislation, all income above $250,000 would be subject to the 6.2 percent Social Security tax rate. Closing this loophole for the wealthy would make sure that Social Security can pay full benefits for at least the next 75 years.