Social Security is the most successful government program in the history of this great country. For more than 75 years, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows and people with disabilities out of poverty. Before Social Security, about half of America's senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty, and more than 55 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.
In order to protect this essential program, Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act. This legislation would keep the Social Security Trust Fund solvent for at least 75 years by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute their fair share. He also introduced the Social Security Protection Act, which would protect Social Security beneficiaries from efforts to raise the retirement age, or reduce Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) or benefits. In addition, Sen. Sanders founded and currently chairs the Defending Social Security Caucus in the Senate to ensure that your benefits are protected and strengthened.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Sen. Sanders is committed to improving the Older Americans Act, which is the legislation that authorizes nutrition programs for seniors, job programs for seniors and also protection from abuse and neglect, legal services and family caregiver support. The act, which has been funding these critical programs since 1965, expired in 2011, and Sen. Sanders has introduced legislation to reauthorize and strengthen this important law. The senator understands the importance of enabling seniors to remain in their homes and communities with the supports and services they need and out of more costly and less-desirable institutional settings.
Sen. Sanders chaired a subcommittee hearing in June 2011 on senior hunger and released a report, "Senior Hunger: The Human Toll and Budget Consequences." Sen. Sanders believes that in the United States of America, no senior should go hungry, and that meal programs for seniors - congregate meals and Meals on Wheels - are a necessary part of our nation's commitment that every American should have access to healthy nutrition.
Senator Sanders also understands the impact that the recession has had on the economic security of older Americans. He held a hearing in October 2011, "The Recession and Older Americans: Where Do We Go from Here?" where he released the findings of a Government Accountability Office report that he requested outlining the economic outlook for America's seniors. Finding unemployment numbers up, household income down and retirement savings dwindling, the report outlined the recession's profound impact on older adults. Sen. Sanders is committed to ensuring that older adults maintain dignity and economic independence by having the chance to work if they are able and retire when they need to. The Older Americans Act programs provide low-income seniors with the assurance that they won't have to choose between paying for food and paying for their medications.