Adequate income is a social determinant of health. In the United States, only Social Security beneficiaries receive inflation-protected guaranteed income. Social Security needs another 1983 compromise in which stakeholders accepted “shared pain” to avoid insolvency. We propose indexing the benefit using the chained consumer price index (CPI) for all urban consumers and providing a one-time bonus of 8% to 10% for beneficiaries in their mid-80s, when needs become greater. The chained CPI has little impact when beneficiaries start receiving benefits, but older beneficiaries need protection. The estimated 75-year savings from this restructured benefit amount to 14.2% to 18% of Social Security deficits. Modest increases in payroll taxes and maximum earnings taxed should make up most of the shortfall. Including unearned income with wages and salaries subject to the 6.2% individual tax would produce much more revenue. The discussion explores the proposal's political feasibility, grounding in current policy and political science literature, and the role of income as a social determinant of health.
Addressing an important social determinant of the health of seniors and the American polity," Politics and the Life Sciences 38(2), 144-167, (12 May 2020). https://doi.org/10.1017/pls.2019.16