Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced legislation providing survivors of domestic violence with the opportunity to withdraw money from their retirement plans in an emergency. The Savings Access for Escaping and Rebuilding (SAFER) Act would allow survivors to withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free from their retirement plans for a year following domestic abuse and would permit them to replace the funds withdrawn over a period of three years.
“I’ve spent my career standing with victims of domestic violence, and I know how important it is for them to have every resource possible at their disposal,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “In a crisis, survivors should be able to access their retirement savings without penalty, so that they can make sure they and their children can escape devastating situations. I’ll continue working in the Senate to empower survivors to reclaim their lives.”
“Domestic violence survivors who leave dangerous situations often face financial instability, especially when their abuser has used money to control them,” said Senator Cornyn. “By allowing survivors to access their retirement funds penalty-free until they get back on their feet, we can help make an extremely difficult time easier.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), and Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Penn.). This legislation is supported by YWCA USA and National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Senator Cortez Masto has been an outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She cosponsored and helped secure passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which will help law enforcement arrest violent predators and improve access to resources for survivors. Her bipartisan Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state programs to allow sexual assault victims to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized for delays due to rape kit backlogs, was included in the reauthorization. She also led the call for robust funding for the Byrne JAG grant program in the FY2022 omnibus to make sure that law enforcement has the resources it needs to hold perpetrators accountable. She has introduced bipartisan legislation to require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect data on the connection between domestic violence and traumatic brain injuries.