AFT Resolution

STRENGTHENING SOCIAL SECURITY

WHEREAS, Social Security is the foundation of America’s retirement security, providing critical financial protection for survivors of deceased workers and disabled workers and their families for more than 70 years; and

WHEREAS, 50 million retirees, survivors and people with disabilities rely on Social Security, with two-thirds of older Americans and nearly half of those with disabilities, relying on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income; and

WHEREAS, despite recent rhetoric that Social Security is “in crisis,” the Social Security Trustees estimated in 2008 that the Social Security Trust Fund has adequate resources to pay full benefits through 2041; with the system able to pay 78 percent of benefits thereafter, even if no changes are made; and

WHEREAS, throughout his terms in office, President Bush has repeatedly announced that one of his top domestic priorities is to divert money from Social Security to private accounts, proposing $647 billion over a 10-year period in his FY 2009 budget to finance the transition to private accounts; and

WHEREAS, these proposals, supported by Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee for president, would result in cutting Social Security benefits as much as 41 percent in the future while draining some $5 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund over 20 years; and

WHEREAS, private accounts subject retirement security to investment and market risks, coupled with a reduction in guaranteed Social Security benefits; and

WHEREAS, the administrative costs of private accounts could take up to 20 percent of revenue that otherwise would go to Social Security beneficiaries compared to the current administrative rate of less than 1 percent; and

WHEREAS, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) of the Social Security law mandate significant reductions in Social Security benefits for participants and surviving spouses in public retirement systems whose employment is not covered by Social Security; and

WHEREAS, more than 1 million teachers, school support personnel, police officers, firefighters and other public employees have seen their Social Security benefits reduced or eliminated because they receive pensions for non-Social Security-covered employment, with more than 75,000 more public employee retirees annually added to this number; and

WHEREAS, estimates indicate that nine out of 10 public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, with some 300,000 low-and middle-income public employees impacted by the WEP having seen their benefits reduced by an average of some $3,600 a year; even though they have qualified for Social Security benefits through covered employment; and

WHEREAS, increased reliance on defined-contribution pension plans coupled with the greater risks inherent in these plans and the relatively small amount of family retirement savings ($29,000 on average) magnify the importance of Social Security as the bedrock of retirement security for all Americans:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support strengthening and improving the financing and benefits of the current Social Security system, including additional funding for the administration of Social Security; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support addressing long-term solvency by making Social Security’s financing more equitable and stable by restoring the payroll tax cap on covered wages to at least 90 percent of covered earnings and indexing the rate to maintain that ratio; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to work to abolish the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security law; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers oppose any plans to privatize Social Security by diverting Social Security revenues into individual accounts subject to investment and market risks; any increase in the early retirement age or any further increase in the normal retirement age; and changing the Social Security benefit formula to either increase the number of years of earnings counted or to index benefits entitlement to any other measure except the actual cost of living for retirees and people with disabilities; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers oppose any alteration of SSDI that restricts disability and undermines due process in claims and appeals; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support increased benefits for single older women and others who do not spend full careers in the paid workforce because of their care of children and other family members; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support a general benefit increase at age 85 for all Social Security beneficiaries to improve the adequacy of benefits; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support basing cost-of-living adjustments on the true cost-of-living of Social Security beneficiaries derived from a determination of the actual living costs for seniors and persons with disabilities; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support taking the Social Security Administration’s administrative expenses off-budget and out from under congressional discretionary spending caps because the agency’s operating costs are funded through the payroll tax; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support education efforts by the Social Security Administration on the importance and benefits of the current Social Security program including the old age, survivors and disability programs; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers reiterate its support for a Social Security system that:

  • maintains economic security for current and future retirees, reducing the economic burden on younger family members to care for their older relatives;
  • provides universal insurance protections for surviving spouses and children and disabled and retired workers; and
  • offers a larger proportional benefit to low-income workers, while continuing to provide larger overall benefits to workers who earn higher wages.
(2008)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.