Clinton Signs Bill Eliminating Social Security Earnings Cap; Aids Older Americans

By Pike, Jennifer | Nation's Cities Weekly, April 17, 2000 | Go to article overview

Clinton Signs Bill Eliminating Social Security Earnings Cap; Aids Older Americans


Pike, Jennifer, Nation's Cities Weekly


Older Americans in communities across the country who are in need of supplementing their retirement income have won a victory in Washington, since Congress unanimously approved HR 5, a repeal of the Social Security earnings limit. President Bill Clinton, pleased that the final bill did not become a vehicle for other legislative priorities, quickly signed the bill into law last week.

The legislation eliminates an earnings cap for those receiving Social Security benefits. Currently, seniors aged 65--69 lose $1 in retirement benefits for every $3 they earn in excess of $17,000 per year.

Social Security Administration officials estimate that 800,000 seniors stand to lose benefits this year with the current system. Under the new law, workers will not be subject to an earnings limit starting the January of the year in which they turn 65. The legislation will be retroactive to December 31, 1999.

The earnings limit was created during the Great Depression in an effort to encourage seniors to leave the workforce and open up more jobs for younger workers who were struggling with the economy's staggering unemployment. Seventy years later, with surplus funds in the federal budget and a tight labor market, President Clinton and Congress have cooperated to meet the needs of today's seniors.

In a letter to the Senate leadership prior to their vote, President Clinton wrote, "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. …

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