February 28, 2000

February 28, 2000 | News Releases on Social Security

Study Shows How Many Seniors Affected by Social Security "Earnings Test"

WASHINGTON, FEB. 28, 2000-As the House of Representatives prepares to vote this week on legislation that would repeal the Social Security "earnings test," a new Heritage Foundation paper shows exactly how many seniors would be affected in each state.

More than 1.1 million seniors nationwide would benefit from the Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act, which raises the amount a working retiree can earn and still draw full Social Security benefits, according to Senior Policy Analyst David John and Policy Analyst Rea Hederman. The highest numbers occur in California (161,130), New York (116,292) and Florida (81,054).

Under existing law, retirees between the ages of 65 and 70 see their Social Security benefits reduced by $1 for every $3 they earn above $17,000. (There are no limits on the amount a working senior above 70 can earn and still draw full benefits.) The current House legislation would raise this amount to $25,000 in 2001 and $30,000 in 2002.

John and Hederman also show how the legislation would affect working retirees by income group, from those earning as little as $5,000 a year to those making more than $100,000. Retirees earning between $25,000 and $30,000 would benefit the most, they say, an income group that accounts for more than one out of every 10 seniors.

"Although eliminating this outdated statute would do nothing to relieve the financial crisis that awaits Social Security, it would assist lower- and middle-income retirees who must continue working to make ends meet," John and Hederman write.

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