This Proposal Could Shrink Social Security's Shortfall. But Is it Fair? | Business News |

2022-06-15 12:16:49 By : Mr. Mark Chen

Mostly sunny and warm but still quite comfortable for mid-June. .

Becoming mostly cloudy and more humid with a shower or thunderstorm possible late, especially from the Lehigh Valley points west.

Social Security provides benefits to seniors across a wide range of income levels. In fact, it's possible to have a $3 million income in retirement but still collect Social Security.

But some lawmakers may be looking to change that by imposing a system of means testing for Social Security purposes. Here's how that would work -- and the impact it might have.

Social Security is facing a serious financial shortfall in the not-so-distant future. Recently, its Trustees projected that the program's trust funds will be out of money by 2035. Once that happens, benefit cuts will be a distinct possibility unless lawmakers manage to find a way to pump more money into Social Security.

One such option to achieve that goal is means testing. Means testing is the concept of distributing benefits to retirees based on need.

Now there are different ways means testing could play out. Lawmakers could decide that seniors above a certain income level might see their Social Security benefits reduced. Or, they might decide that higher-earning seniors can't receive Social Security at all.

In a recent survey by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation, 81% of respondents favored reducing Social Security benefits for higher earners. And it's worth noting that the idea received strong support from both respondents who identify as Republican and those who identify as Democrats. Furthermore, reducing benefits for the top 20% of earners could eliminate 11% of Social Security's anticipated shortfall.

But while means testing could serve the important purpose of addressing Social Security's financial woes, it begs the question: Is it fair?

And the answer? Not really.

Workers today are on the hook for Social Security taxes with the promise that they'll be entitled to benefits down the line. Now, imagine someone who's a higher earner pays those taxes for 45 years, only to then be told, come retirement, that they're not getting benefits, or their benefits are getting reduced, because they also happened to save really well and have a large amount of nest egg-produced income.

Social Security can't sustain benefits at their current level if lawmakers don't find a way to address its anticipated financial shortfall. Means testing and reducing benefits for higher earners is one solution that could help solve the issue at least to some degree, but it's one that's not likely to sit well with many people. And given the backlash that could ensue, lawmakers may ultimately decide to go a different route.

In fact, there are other options on the table when it comes to preventing benefit cuts. One is to raise full retirement age, which is the age at which seniors can claim their Social Security benefits in full. Right now, that age is 67 for those born in 1960 or later. But given the way life expectancies have increased through the years, pushing that age back to 68 or 69 might come off as a more equitable solution that doesn't discriminate based on personal wealth.

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TERRAIN ON THE PARKWAY: 1625 Lehigh Parkway East, Allentown

Pet lovers rejoice.  Among the features offered at this new apartment complex along the Little Lehigh Creek are pet wash and grooming stations for your furry friends. Perfect for getting them cleaned up after adventures on the nearby Lehigh Parkway Trails.

This "sanctuary amid the city of Allentown" offers 160 new 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments. Other amenities include a club room, fitness center, conference rooms and package lockers. Monthly rent starts at $1,575 with three-bedroom, two-bath units starting at $2,540.

DLP CAPITAL: 835 W. Hamilton St., Allentown

The former site of the flagship Hess's department store will soon be home to another company with local roots. Lehigh Valley native Don Wenner is moving his real estate investment and finance firm DLP Capital from Bethlehem to Allentown.

To celebrate, a grand opening will be held on June 22. The event will start at 4 p.m., with live music and food trucks. Registration is required through DLP or the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. DLP acquired the Grand Plaza Building, formerly PPL Plaza, via auction last year for $15.3 million. 

WELLS FARGO: 740 Hamilton St., Allentown

While Wells Fargo has been the leader in closing banks lately, it will hold a ribbon-cutting for its new downtown Allentown office on June 30. The event starts at 11 a.m., with registration free and available through the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce website. Wells Fargo is the fourth-largest bank in the U.S. based on assets, and has about 8,000 branches.

C&I MINERALS: South Mall, 3300 Lehigh St., Allentown

If you're in the market for sterling silver jewelry, minerals and semi-precious gemstones, this is the store for you, now operating at the South Mall in Allentown. The South Mall is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

PPL CORP.: 2 N. Ninth St., Allentown

The Allentown-based utility company has a new approach after making two big transactions. It sold its U.K. operations, taking a lot of risk and currency complications out of its business, and bought a major Rhode Island utility.

During an investor conference Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Vincent Sorgi said the new, focused PPL is prepared to take the strategy that made it successful in Pennsylvania to its Kentucky and Rhode Island operations. Read more.

MARTELLUCCI'S PIZZERIA: 1419 Easton Ave., Bethlehem

Ownership at this Bethlehem restaurant has changed, but the nearly half-century tradition there continues. Paul and Donna Hlavinka and their family are running the pizza place just as it has been operated for 49 years. The pizza dough and sauce recipes remain, the menu still includes a variety of sandwiches, salads and pasta, and the family feel of Martellucci's, founded in 1973, continues. Get the full story.

KASPRENSKI FAMILY EYE CARE: 1088 Howertown Road, Catasauqua

Dr. Jacob Kasprenski's father and grandfather were both physicians in the Lehigh Valley, and now he's following in their footsteps of serving the community. His new vision-care center held a grand opening in conjunction with the Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce. Kasprenski Family Eye Care provides vision-care products and optometry services for emergency, medical and comprehensive routine eye care.

JOSIE'S NEW YORK DELI: 14 Centre Square, Easton

This longtime downtown Easton lunch spot closed early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could be making a comeback. A plan to split the space with a vegan deli did not work out, but a June 13 Historic District Commission meeting includes a request for a new sign at Josie's. The downtown lunch and carry-out spot was a fixture for decades before shutting down indefinitely.

ZEKRAFT - CURATORS OF TASTE: Easton Silk Mill, 1247 Simon Blvd., Unit N107, Easton

For owners Zeke and Elaine Zelker, their mission is "not simply about feeding or entertaining people; it's about nourishing them — body, mind and spirit." And now people in Easton will be closer to their community-minded, locally-sourced meals as their new location off 13th Street will have a grand opening on June 15, with a ribbon-cutting at 3:30 p.m.

The first Zekraft cafe was opened in Bethlehem. The restaurants' menus change frequently, with a focus on local ingredients. Selections include organic coffee and tea, tartines (toast with toppings such as smoked turkey and brie), stir fry, short ribs, soups. The Easton Zekraft is closed on Mondays, open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Read more.

MANTRA MASSAGE: 319 Main St., Emmaus

The goals at women-owned Mantra are physical and spiritual healing, and they use a holistic approach to massage therapy to help meet each individual's unique needs. Services offered include facial cupping, and massages including targeted warm Himalayan salt stone and targeted facial massage. Sessions can be customized to suit each client's activities, stress level and occupation.

The new massage and wellness spa will hold its grand opening on July 10 starting at 11 a.m. The establishment is holding the event with the Emmaus Main Street Partners and the Greater Lehigh Valley and East Penn chambers of commerce. Posted hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and Mantra is closed on Sunday and Monday.

THE CLUB AT TWIN LAKES: 3625 Shankweiler Road, North Whitehall Township

The former Iron Lakes Country Club, constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, held a grand opening this week under its new name, The Club at Twin Lakes. The Jaindl family purchased the golf course last year, and worked with KemperSports Management to upgrade it. Renovations include improvements on the course, cart paths and a new pro shop. See the ribbon-cutting.

PROLOGIS INC.: Proposed warehouses at 7201 Hamilton Blvd., Upper Macungie Township

Prologis, a titan in the logistics industry, is the choice of Air Products and Chemicals to own and operate three warehouses proposed in Upper Macungie Township. The industrial gas company said Prologis will use some of the former Air Products headquarters campus for the warehouses, totaling about 2.6 million square feet. The land became available when Air Products moved its headquarters about a mile down the road last year. Get the full details.

LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL-CARBON: 2128 Blakeslee Blvd. Drive East (Route 443), Mahoning Township

Lehigh Valley Health Network on Monday ceremonially opened its first Carbon County hospital — a $78 million, 100,578-square-foot facility that officials billed as a "full-service community hospital." With final approval from the state Health Department, the new hospital opened to patients on Wednesday.

The facility, just outside Lehighton, already is being eyed for expansion — with room to double its current space for 20 in-patient beds, and to greatly expand its emergency room, officials said. Read about it.

SWIFTWATER SOLAR: Proposed solar field in Pocono Township

Pocono Township commissioners voted Monday to approve a plan to build Pennsylvania's largest solar field on a mountain slope, despite pleas by some residents to reject the project for environmental concerns. Commissioners voted 4-1 to accept Swiftwater Solar's preliminary final plan for the $111 million, 80-megawatt field on a private 644-acre site on top of Bear Mountain that would include about 200,000 solar panels.

The property is east of Interstate 380, adjacent to Sullivan Trail and Back Mountain Road in what now is zoned as a recreational district. With approval still needed from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Transportation Department, construction is expected to start later this year. Get the full story.

FIRETREE LTD.: Proposed in-patient drug- and alcohol-addiction treatment center at 440 N Claude A Lord Blvd. (Route 61), Pottsville

A company that in May withdrew a proposal to locate a drug- and alcohol-addiction treatment center in a Schuylkill County industrial park now is seeking approval for a new site.

Firetree Ltd., which is based in Williamsport and operates treatment centers for people with drug and alcohol addiction and other clients transitioning out of prison, now wants to expand its in-patient rehab operation at the former Sands Ford auto dealership at 440 N Claude A Lord Blvd. (Route 61), Pottsville.

To do that, it needs the Pottsville Zoning Hearing Board's approval regarding the use of the land, which is zoned community commercial. It has a hearing before the board scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 16 in City Hall.

In April, Firetree proposed building a one story, 25,000-square-foot treatment center on a vacant 11.5-acre site at 10 Shultz Drive in MAJIC Industrial Park in Delano Township. However, two days before a May 4 hearing was to be held before the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board, Firetree withdrew the application. Get the full story.

DUNKIN': 400 Terry Rich Blvd., St. Clair

A Dunkin' in Schuylkill County has become just the fourth location of the donut and coffee chain to go entirely digital. The remodeled store at 400 Terry Rich Blvd., St. Clair, opened with a ribbon-cutting Monday. It has replaced its traditional order counter with two in-store kiosks at which customers place digital orders and pay using a credit card or Dunkin' gift card.

Guests will also be able to place advance orders using the mobile order feature on the Dunkin' App. The location still offers Dunkin's full menu. There only other all-digital Dunkin' locations in the United States are in Boston, Cherry Hill, N.J. and Dallas, Luzerne County. Read more.

THE CONSERVATORY: 4059 Skyron Drive, Doylestown

A nonprofit music school in Bucks County will close after 34 years, and school officials say the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause. The Conservatory, near the Doylestown Airport, has provided education in music, performances and therapy for communities in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties since 1988. Its final day open will be June 30.

The pandemic led to a decline in enrollment and revenue, and according to a statement from the school, attempts to merge with other music schools were not successful. The Conservatory started as the Community Conservatory of Music in the President's House on the grounds of Delaware Valley College and operated in three other locations before settling at Skyron Drive in 2013. The school has 22 studios and a performance hall. Get the full scoop.

POPEYES LOUISIANA KITCHEN and ARBY'S: 680 Memorial Parkway, Phillipsburg

Demolition began last week at the former Ahart's Market on Route 22 in Phillipsburg. The site will not be vacant for long, Mayor Todd Tersigni said. A Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Arby's will be built on the site.

Popeyes is a fried-chicken fast-food chain with about 2,800 U.S. locations, plus another 600 more in territories and other countries. Arby's, a sandwich chain, has 3,300 locations. Popeyes and Arby's are both owned by Inspire Brands Inc., which also owns Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin, Sonic Drive-In and other restaurant chains. Check out the demolition.


A historic building in Flemington, which has been a home and later was used as offices, will hold Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce offices and the Unity Bank center. The chamber will hold a ribbon-cutting at the building at 5:30 p.m. June 15. To attend the event, register through the chamber website. The building was erected in 1847 and was once the home of George Hall Large, who served as president of the New Jersey state Senate.

· Honeygrow opens Quakertown location, next to Chipotle on Route 309, on June 3.

· Dunkin' reopens remodeled restaurant at 1174 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township

· Muse Modern Med Spa at 325 Fifth St. in Whitehall Township  will hold a grand opening June 4.

· Around Again, a consignment store, opened at 154 S. Main St., Phillipsburg

· Steak and Steel Hibachi, a restaurant in the works at 44 W. Walnut St., Bethlehem, still plans on opening late this summer. 

· Take It Outdoors Recreation Hub has moved to a spot along the Schuylkill River Trail at Riverfront Park in Pottstown, Montgomery County

· Pedego Electric Bikes has a new outlet in Lambertville, N.J. at 13 N. Union St.

· Amanda Vachris has opened a new Keller Williams Real Estate office at 15 St. John St. in Schuylkill Haven.

· Easton's new West Ward Market will open Wednesday and be open on Wednesday's through the summer from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The market, created by the Greater Easton Development Partnership, will sell fresh produce on 12th Street, next to Paxinosa Elementary School.

· Ciao Sandwich Shoppe is adding a second location, this time on College Hill in Easton. Ciao plans to open at 325 Cattell St. in late summer. Ciao already operates in downtown Easton at 12 N. Third St

· Ma's Crepes and Cakes will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting June 16 at 46 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe. The celebration starts at 5 p.m., with the ribbon cutting at 5:45 p.m. 

· Bethlehem's Back Door Bakeshop will reopen as a wholesale operation at 7 E. Church St. in the city's historic district. The business was open for nine years as a retail outlet at Broad and Center streets, before announcing in March that it would close the storefront April 3 and "go back to its origins as a wholesale business."

·The Beef Baron on Catasauqua Road in Bethlehem is closed indefinitely for renovations

· The Brothers That Just Do Gutters are opening a new location in Allentown at 1302 N. 18th St.

· St. John Chrysostom Academy, an Orthodox school serving grades 1-9 starting this fall, held a grand opening at its St. Francis Center, Bethlehem, campus.

· Easton Commons, a shopping center anchored by Giant Foods at 2920 Easton Ave., Bethlehem Township, has a new name: The Shops at Bethlehem.

· Carbon County is getting a taste of Brazil at Uai Brasil BBQ at 315 Lehigh Ave. in Palmerton.

· The Keystone Pub in Bethlehem Township, at 3259 Easton Avenue, has reopened after a lengthy and expensive renovation. 

· The Trading Post Depot opened at 401 Northampton St., Easton. The rustic furniture store makes custom tables for dining rooms, desktops, conference centers and more.

· The Easton area has a new gym: Homemade Fitness at 444 Cedarville Road in Williams Township.

· Il Gaetano Ristorante opened at its 665 Columbus Ave., Phillipsburg, location. 

· Ciao! Sandwich Shoppe to open second location on College Hill in Easton, replacing The Kettle Room

· Rene and Grisellies Benique have opened Ezekiel 47 Cafe at 10 S. Fifth Ave., off Fifth and Penn avenues, in West Reading. 

· Alter Ego Salon and Day Spa in Emmaus is holding a grand opening Sunday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at noon. 

· Origen Latin Fusion has opened at the site of the former Tomcat Cafe in Sinking Spring, Berks County. 

· Sellersville Senior Residences will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 24. The Bucks County affordable-housing community for adults 55 and older has 50 apartments, with eight allocated for people with behavioral health needs.

· The House and Barn in Emmaus has opened its Shed outdoor dining and cigar bar area. The House and Barn is at 1449 Chestnut St. in Emmaus.

· Realtor Amanda Vachris and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at Vachris's new Keller Williams Real Estate office at 15 St. John St., Schuylkill Haven, at 4 p.m. on May 24.

· Il Gaetano Ristorante will hold a grand opening on Friday, May 20, at 5:30 p.m. The 665 Columbus Ave., Phillipsburg.

· First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union will hold a grand opening at its new headquarters in Trexlertown, 6126 Hamilton Blvd., on May 18.

· Vinyl Press Signs & Graphics has relocated within Emmaus. The new site is 15 S. Second St., not far from the former Sixth Street location.

· Pedro's Cafe in Emmaus to close

· SV Sports (formerly Schuylkill Valley Sports) to close Quakertown location

· Flemington DIY will host a Grand Re-Opening on May 14 at 26 Stangl Road, Flemington. The celebration will kick off at 10 a.m. 

· Elpedio’s Ristorante at Seipsville opened at 2912 Old Nazareth Road in Easton. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday.

· Uai Brazil opened at 315 Lehigh Ave, Palmerton, offering both a seated or buffet option. 

· Colombian Mex Restaurant opened at 107 E Union Blvd in Bethlehem, offering traditional Colombian cuisine. 

· Precision Ink opened at 161 W Berwick St. in Easton. 

· King Wing opened a location in Bethlehem at 129 E. Third St., serving wings and sandwiches.  

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