There are a variety of ways to do that. One, called “progressive indexing,” would let benefits grow at the level of existing law for the lowest-income workers, moderate their growth for middle-income workers, and freeze them in inflation-adjusted terms for higher-earning workers.
When I made these points in this space recently, I got a lot of pushback and follow-up questions from readers. So I’ll respond here to the three concerns that many of you raised.
First: A number of readers thought I was talking about cost-of-living adjustments, and pointed out that they are tied to a measure of inflation. So an individual retiree’s benefit does not grow, in inflation-adjusted terms, over time. This is true. I think that yearly cost-of-living adjustments should be more generous, so that retirees get more support when they are 85 than when they are 70.
But what I was discussing was the program’s initial benefit levels, which are structured so that a person in the middle of the income distribution who retires 10 years from now gets a bigger check than a similar person who retires today.