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Americans Support Raising Taxes to Protect Social Security

By Hook Law Center

Despite years of debate on Capitol Hill, Congress has failed to act on Social Security reform.
Any reform proposal with a fighting chance would likely include an increase in payroll taxes.
Would the American public support such measures?

Recently, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) surveyed 2,000 Americans to determine what reforms they would support in order to shore up Social Security. NASI found that 82 percent of respondents would support increasing taxes on working Americans, while 87 percent would support taxing the wealthy. Eighty-two percent of those respondents with incomes over $100,000 per year supported the idea of raising their own taxes.

Although Democrats and Independents were disproportionately likely to support tax hikes, nearly three quarters of Republicans supported increasing taxes.

The survey also asked respondents to choose from a range of hypothetical packages of adjustments to benefits and tax revenue. Not only did respondents show a willingness to raise taxes enough to close the projected financing gap, but, 71 percent preferred a package that would simultaneously increase benefits.

These measures would:

  • phase out the cap on earnings subject to payroll taxes so that all workers pay into Social Security throughout the year;
  • gradually raise the rate at which workers and employers are taxed from 6.2 percent to 7.2 percent;
  • raise the minimum Social Security benefit so that workers who paid into the system for 30 years could exceed the poverty line solely through Social Security income; and
  • increase cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to better reflect real-world price inflation.

In contrast, the options that hurt a package’s appeal among respondents included such cost-control measures as raising the retirement age to 70 years old and enacting means-testing for benefit eligibility.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more.

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013. Filed under Long-Term Care, Medicaid, Senior Law News.

VA’s Computer Processing Speeds Assistance to Post-9/11 GI Bill Beneficiaries

By Hook Law Center

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has dramatically decreased the processing time for applicants to the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, the agency said in a recent press release.

The VA is currently engaged in a program to move from paper-based processing to electronic processing of benefit claims dubbed, the “Long Term Solution.” As a result, currently-enrolled students applying for education assistance under the GI Bill program now wait an average of 6 days for their claims to be processed versus the previous 9 days – a decrease of more than 50 percent.

The news is a bright spot in contrast to recent reports that wait times for veterans applying for other benefits have skyrocketed in recent years to as long as 18 months. New students, however, can expect to see no change in wait time. New students establishing their eligibility for the program for the first time can still expect an average wait time of 24 days.

According to the release, the VA is currently processing 46 percent of new claims for enrolled students electronically. Hope remains high that the computerization of claims processed throughout the VA will dramatically decrease wait times and backlogs of all applications.

The VA has reported providing $27 billion in benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill to veterans, their families, and educational institutions over the past three and a half years.

Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013. Filed under Veterans' Benefits.
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