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Tuesday March 28, 2000

Cathy Noe

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Social Security Online


News Release

Social Security Administration to Contact Beneficiaries Affected by the
Retirement Earnings Test

The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to make the repeal of the retirement earnings test a snap for beneficiaries. Individuals on the benefit rolls between age 65-69 who are not receiving retirement benefits, or who are receiving only partial benefits because they are working, will receive their payments automatically, without lifting a finger.

"Our automated systems will help us identify the affected beneficiaries and make retroactive payments quickly," said Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security. "Beneficiaries do not need to contact SSA to get their retroactive benefits. Beneficiaries should contact SSA only if they recently have changed their address or bank."

Legislation to repeal the retirement earnings test is expected to see final passage in Congress this week and to be signed by the President shortly thereafter. Once the bill is signed, SSA will send notices to all beneficiaries affected by the earnings test.

If the bill is signed into law by early April, individuals should receive their retroactive check in early May. Their June check would then be fully adjusted to reflect the change in the law.

Under current law, for Social Security beneficiaries age 65-69, benefits are reduced $1 for every $3 of earnings above $17,000 per year. Workers are exempt from the test when they reach age 70.

About 800,000 beneficiaries who are either working or are dependents of workers age 65 through 69 in the year 2000 would have forfeited about $6 billion in Social Security payments this year because of the earnings test. Eliminating the earnings test will allow each beneficiary to receive, on average, an additional $6,700 this year.

Around 415,000 of these working beneficiaries (and their dependents) between the ages of 65 and 69 have already had $1.4 billion in Social Security benefits withheld because of the earnings test. With the elimination of the earnings test, they will each receive a retroactive payment averaging about $3,500 each.

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