Human Capital & Careers

Seniors Apply Themselves

A new law lets seniors earn as much as they want without compromising their Social Security benefits. But are employers taking?
Alix StuartNovember 1, 2000

Move over, Gen- Xers. A new law passed in April allows people age 65 and over to earn as much income as they want without compromising their Social Security benefits, reversing the previous policy of subtracting $1 in benefits for every $3 earned above a threshold amount ($17,000 in 2000). But it remains to be seen if employers are ready to make the most of the change.

A program to train seniors on electronic cash registers, funded by franchise licenser Riese Restaurants Inc., in New York, has been oversubscribed since it began about five years ago, says Jim Ladota, vice president of human resources for Riese. Nearly 100 percent of the graduates quickly find jobs in Riese-licensed restaurants or elsewhere. “We will employ them, but a lot of them get employed before they even finish the class,” says Ladota, noting that such retailers as Gap Inc. are among the most active recruiters in the program.

Corporate America, however, has so far been fairly unresponsive to hiring older workers, specialists say. “We have seen a pretty robust pickup in the number of résumés listed since that measure was passed, but what we haven’t seen is an increase in the number of jobs offered,” says Don Rizzo, president of, a career Web site for people age 55 and over.

Adds The Senior Staff president Bill Payson, “There are hardly any companies in the United States that are willing to retrain people before they hire them. It’s cheaper to steal someone from the competition.” The Senior Staff, a San Jose, Calif.-based career Web site for IT specialists over age 35, has signed on 10,000 job-seekers, but so far only about 100 employers.