Why the Social Security Earnings Penalty Should Be Repealed

Policy Backgrounders | Social Security

No. 152
Monday, February 28, 2000
by Bruce Bartlett


I believe that all arguments against abolishing the earnings limit are spurious. In fact, my suspicion is that the true barrier to doing so is simply class envy. Those who would benefit most in the short run from abolition of the earnings test are relatively high income earners. But in the longer run, especially given the rise in life expectancy, I would expect to see many more moderate income workers stay in the labor force if the earnings test were repealed.24

This is not a partisan issue. President Clinton proposed eliminating the earnings test in his State of the Union Address in 1999, and has reiterated his desire to do so again this year.25

This Backgrounder is adapted from testimony before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on February 15, 2000.

NOTE: Nothing written here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the National Center for Policy Analysis or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.

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