Eighty-seven years after the Social Security program was signed into law in August 1935, an average of 66 million Americans are receiving a benefit check each month.
One of those Americans is a guy who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.: our 46th president, Joe Biden.
Biden, 79, and his wife Jill Biden, 71, are among the 66 million Americans who collect a Social Security check each month, according to a report by Sean Williams, writing for The Motley Fool.
The program has become a lifeline for many.
According to the Social Security Administration, for many Americans (37 percent of men and 42 percent of women), that monthly check makes up at least half of their income. For 12 percent of men and 15 percent of women, it makes up 90 percent or more of their income.
That group, of course, does not include Joe Biden.
The average monthly Social Security check was $1,670.95 as of July. According to Williams’ report, Joe and Jill Biden get a lot more than that.
“Last year, the Biden’s claimed $54,665 in Social Security income on a joint basis, which works out to about $4,555 each month. Even taking into account that this $4,555 figure is the combination of Joe’s and Jill’s monthly payout, this is well above what the average retired worker brings home each month from Social Security,” Williams reported.
With a 2023 cost of living adjustment tied to the inflation rate — which hit a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June — Williams said that figure is likely to grow. “Following a 5.9% COLA that was passed along to beneficiaries in 2022, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Biden’s taking home well in excess of $60,000 a year, jointly, from Social Security come their 2023 federal tax filing,” he wrote.
Williams said it appears the Bidens have hit Social Security’s maximum monthly payout, which in 2021 was $3,148 per month for a worker at full retirement age.
“According to archived tax returns, the adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) for the Bidens fluctuated between $210,797 and $407,009 from 1998 through 2016,” he reported.
“The president and his wife brought home a staggering $11,031,309 in 2017 and $4,580,437 in 2018, on a combined basis. In other words, the couple’s Social Security joint payout is actually quite small compared to what the duo brought home in AGI each year over a two-decade stretch.”
The benefit Williams called “quite small” shrinks further because of another feature found on Line 6b of the Bidens’ tax return, which indicates they had $46,465 in taxable Social Security income.
“That’s right, folks…Social Security benefits are taxable under certain circumstances,” Williams wrote.
“In 1983, with Social Security’s asset reserves dwindling, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed the last sweeping overhaul of the program. Among the many changes made was the introduction of the taxation of benefits, which took effect in 1984.”
“A decade later, in 1993, President Clinton oversaw the addition of a second tier of taxation, which allowed up to 85% of an individual’s or couple’s Social Security payout to be taxed at the federal rate.”
“The Bidens earn far more than the top-tier income threshold, which exposes 85% of their Social Security income to federal taxation each year.”
Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, a social welfare organization, told CNBC the practice of taxing Social Security benefits is “not well understood.”
“The fact that levies are applied to benefits is ‘extremely unpopular,'” she said, according to CNBC. “People hate it, but it actually makes policy sense.”
The 1983 and 1993 changes apply to taxpayers if their income is over certain thresholds.
Since they are definitely among the higher-earning taxpayers, those congressional changes likely take a bite out of the Bidens’ Social Security checks.
But if Biden has a problem with that, he need only look in the mirror for someone to blame, as he voted for both taxes as a senator from Delaware.
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