In Response to Local Staffing Shortages at Hospitals, Rep. Katko Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Incentivize Retired Healthcare Professionals and First Responders to Aid in Local Coronavirus Response Effort

Syracuse, NY— Today, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) introduced the Health Care Worker and First Responder Social Security Beneficiaries Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the staffing shortage many Central New York hospitals currently face by incentivizing retired healthcare workers to participate in the local Coronavirus response effort. Rep. Katko joined U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D, CA-48) in introducing this measure.

With confirmed Coronavirus cases in New York State increasing daily, state officials and local officials have called on retired healthcare workers to help treat influxes in patients by returning to work. However, retired healthcare professionals are disincentivized from participating in the Coronavirus response effort under current law. Currently, due to the retirement earnings test, individuals under the full retirement age that receive Social Security benefits have their benefits reduced if they earn income above set thresholds.  Rep. Katko’s legislation would address this deterrent by suspending the retirement earnings test for retired healthcare workers and first responders who choose to assist in the Coronavirus response effort by ensuring they will not experience any changes in their Social Security benefits.

This concern was brought to Rep. Katko’s attention by Joseph Huppman of Syracuse, a retired Syracuse VA Medical Center Nurse and Air Force Veteran, who is considering returning to the workforce to assist with the local Coronavirus response effort.

Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

“With so many Central New York hospitals, medical facilities, and localities requiring additional support to care for patients and respond to emergencies during this crisis, I firmly believe we should be incentivizing retired healthcare professionals and first responders to return to work, not penalizing them,” said Rep. Katko. “Yet under current law, retirees under the full retirement age risk losing important Social Security benefits if they choose to assist with Central New York’s Coronavirus response effort. This bipartisan fix would grant an exception for these retired healthcare professionals and first responders— ensuring that when they return to work, they can continue receiving full Social Security benefits.”