While it’s not clear exactly what Congress might do to save Social Security, some lawmakers are already working on their own solutions. Rep. John Larson (D-CT) has introduced a bill to protect the Social Security program, although it’s far from clear that it will be passed. Meanwhile, a report last week stated that bipartisan Social Security reform could emerge in the next Congress, even if the Republicans sweep the midterm elections.
According to a report from ThinkAdvisor, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced the Improving Social Security’s Service to Victims of Identity Theft Act. Notably, the bill is a re-introduction of another that was previously put forward in Congress. While it wouldn’t fully reform Social Security, it would streamline one important function of the Social Security Administration: the process of contacting Social Security if a recipient has their identity stolen.
The sponsors include Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). “This bill would take an important step toward helping victims of identity theft by giving them a single point of contact at the Social Security Administration,” Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, told ThinkAdvisor. “For over a decade, SSA field offices have been starved of resources. Then, field offices were shuttered for two years as a result of the pandemic,” Altman added. “This has left people no choice but to use the internet or phone to interact with SSA when applying for benefits and dealing with SSA for other purposes. This is where identity theft occurs.”
Numerous organizations have endorsed the approach, including the AARP, Social Security Works, the Association of Mature American Citizens, the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.
The AARP recently wrote a letter that urged the four main sponsors of the legislation to pass it. “Your legislation would streamline and improve the assistance provided by the Social Security Administration to individuals whose Social Security number has been stolen or misused,” the organization said in the letter.
“Identity theft and fraud are at an all-time high in the United States, and the range of fraud that can be committed with a stolen Social Security number is truly staggering. In 2021, the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline connected with more than 130,000 people. Fraud related to identity theft and Social Security imposter scams were among the top five reported scams.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.