Washington, D.C. – During the pandemic, countless Americans performed essential work to keep our health care system and our economy running, from first responders to supply chain workers. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of semi-retired essential workers who answered the call for help and earned overtime and hazard pay during this period are at risk of taking a financial hit due to the Retirement Earnings Test (RET), which imposes an earnings threshold above which Social Security benefits are reduced.
In a bipartisan effort to protect these workers’ Social Security benefits, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Supporting Essential Workers in Retirement Act. Their bill would exempt overtime and hazard pay earned during the public health emergency in 2020 and 2021 from the RET. Any benefits that have been withheld by the Social Security Administration or lump sums that have been paid to the Social Security Administration would be required to be returned to the essential workers who sacrificed on our behalf.
“I have heard from many Mainers who stepped up to perform essential work during the pandemic, only to find later that the income they earned during that time unexpectedly put them above the statutory RET threshold. One of my constituents, a semi-retired teacher aide at an Aroostook County elementary school, worked extra hours delivering meals to children who were at home learning remotely, and as a result she had to pay money back to the Social Security Administration,” said Senator Collins. “I encourage my colleagues to join us in supporting this bill to ensure that those brave individuals who performed essential work in hazardous conditions to help our country address a global pandemic are not punished for doing so.”
“Essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19 have put their lives at risk to keep us all safe during the pandemic,” said Senator Brown. “This bill will make sure that receiving hazard pay for their hard work doesn’t affect the Social Security benefits they’ve already earned and started to receive.”
The Supporting Essential Workers in Retirement Act is co-sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bob Casey (D-PA).
Click HERE to read the one-pager.
Click HERE to read the bill text.