Economic Program | Report

Is Social Security Regressive?

by Jim Kessler and David Brown

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Do the wealthy get a better deal from Social Security?

The payroll tax is capped at $113,700. The wealthy retire later—qualifying for larger benefits. And they live longer, collecting more checks. So we tuned in to three classic American siblings, each of different means, to see who gets the best “deal” from Social Security.

With a “bunch” of help from Marcia, Greg, and Peter Brady, we found out that the less a worker earns over the course of a lifetime, the better a return he or she can expect from Social Security. That holds true even if the lower earner retires sooner and dies younger.

Turns out Social Security is pretty neato for everybody, and the charge that the wealthy are getting the better deal than most from Social Security (because of the FICA tax cap) is false.


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