U.S. Senators Katie Britt, Maggie Hassan Introduce Clergy Act

April 16, 2024

WASHINGTOND.C., April 16, 2024 — U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) today introduced the Clergy Act, the Senate Companion to H.R.6068, to allow clergy members who previously opted not to be covered by Social Security a time-limited opportunity to opt back in to coverage.

Under current law, certain members of the clergy may make a one-time, irreversible decision to exempt their ministerial earnings from self-employment taxes. If they elect to do so, they do not receive Social Security and Medicare benefits based on that income.

The Clergy Act would provide these community and faith leaders the ability to reverse this decision – which is often made very early in their careers – and afford them the opportunity to better their financial futures.  Specifically, the legislation would give clergy members a re-enrollment window to opt back into Social Security coverage. Consistent with current eligibility requirements, the bill would require clergy members to pay into Social Security for 40 quarters, 10 years, to receive benefits after opting back in. 

“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Senator Hassan to support our nation’s faith leaders,” said Senator Britt. “The Clergy Act is a commonsense measure that would ensure fairness and provide clergy members across our nation with the opportunity to plan for retirement after years of dedicated service to their congregations and communities.”

“Clergy members look out for their communities, whether it’s as they lead their congregation weekly or during quiet moments supporting someone going through a difficult time,” Senator Hassan said. “I am glad to help introduce this bipartisan bill to allow clergy members to opt back into Social Security, because just as members of the clergy have supported our communities time and again, we must also support members of the clergy as they near retirement.”

The Clergy Act was originally introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) and was reported out of the House Committee on Ways and Means by a vote of 41-0.

This legislation is endorsed by the Church Alliance and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

The full text of the bill can be found here.


Most clergy members are automatically covered by Social Security. These clergy members have the option to exempt themselves from Social Security coverage if they are conscientiously opposed. The choice to opt out excuses clergy members from paying Social Security taxes and make them ineligible to receive benefits, which some members come to regret.

Congress has repeatedly given clergy members who have exempted themselves from Social Security coverage the opportunity to opt back into the program, including in 1977, 1986, and most recently in 1999 through the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act

The Clergy Act would additionally require the IRS to develop and submit to Congress its plan to notify clergy members of their eligibility to request revocations from Social Security participation.