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WASHINGTON — The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved two final amendments to a bipartisan retirement reform bill — one focused on disabled first responders and the other on automatic employee enrollments. The EARN (Enhancing American Retirement Now) Act next faces a vote by the full Senate.

The bill bolsters and expands income and tax rules and lessens penalties for retirement savings accounts for the millions of working Americans, including part-time workers and domestic violence survivors, most of whom are women. Retirement security is especially critical today as the rising inflation that is ripping through the pandemic-laced U.S. economy strains incomes and creates individual and family stress.

“More Americans are now reporting that they expect they won’t have enough set aside to retire anytime soon, and the number of retirees who are going back to work is climbing,” said committee chair Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Oregon) in prepared remarks.

Wyden noted the committee worked on the act, which contains more than 70 proposals, for four years with both Democrats and Republicans in agreement that the federal government needs to do more to help create and maintain retirement plans.

Wednesday’s actions:

  • Allows certain disabled first responders to no longer consider retirement funds as gross income, putting more money into their households. The bill also allows them earlier access to their retirement funds.
  • All employers, including small businesses, will automatically enroll employees in 401(k)and 403(b) once they become eligible. Employees must contribute at least three percent for the first year, and then increase by one percent per year until it reaches at least 10 percent (but no more than 15 percent). 

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