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Knoxville — The United States Senate has voted to stop taking Social Security benefits away from senior citizens who continue to work through their late 60s.

A University of Tennessee economist said working seniors will benefit.

“Under the old system, Social Security recipients in their 60s faced a fairly heavy tax on their benefits when they earned post-retirement income,” said Dr. Matt Murray. “We’ve seen life expectancy rise, and there is the capacity for individuals to increasingly work longer through their lives, well into their 60s and even their 70s.”

The change will be made retroactive to Dec. 31, 1999, which will boost the income of hundreds of thousands of senior citizens by thousands of dollars.

The old law reduced Social Security benefits for some elderly workers if they earned more than $17,000 in wages.

Murray said the new law may benefit seniors but have an impact on the Social Security trust fund.

“The consequences in the short term are for those individuals to have a higher income,” said Murray. “It will encourage those same elderly individuals to stay within the work force, and it will put increased pressure on that trust fund over time.”