Senate Nixes Social Security Limits
March 22, 2000
By PAUL SHEPARD
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) via NewsEdge Corporation -
With both parties wooing elderly voters, the
Senate today unanimously passed legislation to quit taking Social Security benefits away from people
who continue to work through their late 60s.
The 100-0 vote sends the bill back to the House,
which also passed it unanimously on March 1, because the Senate added a measure to assure that
64-year-old workers are not penalized.
President Clinton has said he will sign the bill,
and House aides predicted that it will be approved there again as soon as a vote can be scheduled.
The change would be made retroactive to Dec. 31, 1999, effectively boosting the income of 800,000
workers 65 through 69 by thousands of dollars before election day next November.
``As the baby boomers begin to retire, it is more
important than ever that older Americans who are willing and able to work should not have their
Social Security benefits deferred when they do,'' Clinton said in a letter to senators from India,
where he is visiting.
Under current law, elderly workers 65 through 69
lose $1 in Social Security benefits for every $3 in wages they make above $17,000.
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott, R-Miss., recalled how his own mother questioned why she had to give up a part of her Social
Security because she worked past the age of 65. ``This is a wonderful piece of legislation,'' Lott
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said in statement ``This
is a victory for seniors and common sense.''
``The earnings limit is part of a bygone era,''
said the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Sen. William Roth, R-Del. ``It is a by-product of the
Great Depression, a time when folks believed an individual should retire completely and make room
for others to work.''
Four years ago, Social Security recipients in
their late 60s could earn only $11,250 before having to give back a portion of their benefit checks.
Congress voted then to gradually raise the earnings ceiling in steps to $30,000 by 2002.
Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who is not seeking
re-election, also voiced strong support for the bill but expressed concerns that more comprehensive
Social Security reform wasn't addressed.
Without either an increase in the current 12.4
percent Social Security tax or a decrease in benefits, the fund will start paying out more money
than it receives each year beginning in 2017, shortly after the post-World War II baby boomers begin
retiring en masse, experts warn.
``It's not likely the baby boomers will come to
Congress and ask for less,'' Kerrey said. ``It's likely they will ask for more.''
EDITOR'S NOTE _ The bill is H.R.5.
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