Nevada senators vote to end Social Security earnings limit

Nevada Senators Harry Reid and Richard Bryan voted with the rest of the Senate on Wednesday to end the limits on how much senior citizens can make without losing their Social Security benefits.

"Today's vote removes a roadblock to many seniors who would like to keep working, stay active or find employment as a way to supplement their income," said Reid, a Democrat.

Bryan, also a Democrat, said the existing law has unfairly penalized seniors with a depression era restriction originally created to battle high unemployment by forcing older workers to retire.

"The rationale for continuing this out-dated policy has long since passed, especially with our nation's current economic health and near record levels of employment," he said.

"The repeal of this unfair earnings limit will give new-found freedom to millions of seniors who may wish to continue working beyond the age of 65.

Existing law allows a senior to make up to $17,000 a year without losing Social Security benefits. But recipients lose a dollar for every three dollars they earn over that amount.

"The workplace has changed significantly since social security was created and today's vote reflects the growing role of seniors in our nation's workforce," said Reid.

By a 100-0 vote, the Senate joined the House in agreeing to let Social Security recipients collect their full benefits no matter what they earn. President Clinton has promised to sign the bill.

The House passed an almost identical version by a 422-0 vote three weeks ago. It will have to be voted on it again, most likely next week, congressional aides say, because the Senate made a technical change to assure that workers age 64 are not penalized.

''I look forward to opening a new era of opportunity for older Americans by signing this measure into law,'' President Clinton said in a statement from India, where he was visiting the Taj Mahal.

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.

Under current law, those workers now must return $1 of Social Security benefits for every $3 they earn above $17,000. Until Congress raised the ceiling before the 1996 election, new beneficiaries could earn only $11,250 a year before losing some of their benefits.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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