Social Security's special minimum benefit is declining in relative value, does not provide a full benefit equal to the poverty threshold, and reaches fewer beneficiaries each year. Members of Congress and other key policymakers have proposed several methods for revising the special minimum benefit, either as part of reforming Social Security more broadly or as stand-alone policy options. Most of the new options would index the benefit to wages, helping ensure its sustainability into the future. The options differ in how they define a “year of coverage,” how many years of coverage are required to be eligible for any benefit increase, and how much the full benefit increase should be. Those choices will determine who will receive the benefit increase and how adequate their benefit will be.
Glenn Springstead, Kevin Whitman, and Dave Shoffner are with the Office of Retirement Policy, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration. Questions about the analysis should be directed to the authors at (202) 358-6234, (202) 358-6317, and (202) 358-6210, respectively.
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Natalie Lu, Mark Sarney, Melissa Favreault, Kathleen Romig, Hilary Waldron, and Craig Feinstein for their helpful comments and suggestions.
The findings and conclusions presented in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Social Security Administration.