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Want to Strengthen Social Security? Raise the Minimum Wage—and Do It Now!

Social Security is extremely popular, effective, and efficient, but it has one major flaw—benefits are too low. Raising the minimum wage would be a big step towards fixing this problem.

Raising the minimum wage doesn't just increase workers' current compensation," writes Lawson. "It also increases their future compensation: Social Security." (Photo: Getty Images)

Raising the minimum wage doesn't just increase workers' current compensation," writes Lawson. "It also increases their future compensation: Social Security." (Photo: Getty Images)

What does the minimum wage have to do with Social Security? On the surface, they might seem like unrelated issues. After all, the minimum wage is for workers and Social Security is for people who've stopped working due to old age or disability. But in fact, the two are closely linked—and raising the minimum wage to a $15/hour living wage would strengthen Social Security.

"Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate, and they must do whatever it takes to get this done."

Social Security is extremely popular, effective, and efficient, but it has one major flaw—benefits are too low. Raising the minimum wage would be a big step towards fixing this problem. That's because the more money workers pay into Social Security, the greater their future benefits. In other words, raising the minimum wage doesn't just increase workers' current compensation. It also increases their future compensation: Social Security.

In practice, this means that a $15 minimum wage will increase the future Social Security benefits of low-income workers by up to $5100 a year. That translates to millions of seniors and people with disabilities who won’t have to cut their medications in half in order to afford groceries.

Raising the minimum wage would also bolster the Social Security trust funds. When workers earn more, they contribute more into Social Security. A $15 minimum wage would generate over $130 billion for our Social Security system by 2035. But the same Republicans who endlessly demand cuts to Social Security so it doesn't go "bankrupt" (which is impossible) refuse to support a living wage.

The benefits to Social Security are just one of many reasons why we need to update the minimum wage to $15. It will make millions of workers and their families more economically secure. It will pump billions of dollars into communities across the country. And it will save money on means-tested assistance programs.

A $15 minimum wage just passed the House of Representative. This is a huge milestone for grassroots activists and unions who have been fighting for $15 for nearly a decade. Now, the ball is in the Senate's court—and they need to act now.

Raising the wage isn't just the right thing to do, it's also popular with Americans across the political spectrum. Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate, and they must do whatever it takes to get this done. The American people won't take no for an answer. 

Alex Lawson

Alex Lawson

Alex Lawson is the Executive Director of Social Security Works, the convening organization of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition — a coalition made up of over 340 national and state organizations representing over 50 million Americans.

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