WASHINGTON – After holding a series of six roundtables with family caregivers, advocates, providers, and consumers of home care across Connecticut to learn about the issues impacting Connecticut caregivers, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today announced the introduction of the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act to create a Social Security Caregiver credit and provide modest retirement compensation to individuals who have had to leave the workforce or reduce their hours to care for a loved one. Tens of millions of Americans leave the workforce entirely or reduce their hours significantly to care for loved ones at some point in their career. Studies indicate that on average, total wage, private pension, and Social Security losses due to caregiving total more than $300,000, threatening retirement security. Women, who make up two-thirds of unpaid caregivers, are disproportionately impacted. In Connecticut, the 65-and-over population is expected to grow by 57 percent by 2040. More than half of Connecticut residents age 40 and older say they have provided care on an unpaid basis for an adult loved one.
“Millions of people across the country sacrifice so much to care for loved ones. I’ve listened to caregivers across Connecticut, and many were forced to cut back on hours or leave their jobs,” said Murphy. “This not only affects their pocketbooks today, but it reduces the amount they’re paying into the Social Security system and takes a chunk out of the benefits they’ll receive when they retire.”
“People who care for loved ones deserve our gratitude. Penalizing caregivers by docking the Social Security benefits they count on is backwards. I’m introducing the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act because Washington should support those who support their families,” Murphy added.
Murphy’s Social Security Caregiver Credit Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, The Arc of the United States, the National Organization for Women, the National Council on Aging, Caring Across Generations, the Sibling Leadership Network, the National Alliance for Caregiving, the Center for Community Change Action, Social Security Works, and Autism Speaks.
“The Arc applauds Senator Murphy for introducing this much-needed bill to ensure that Americans who reduce their employment to care for a family member with a disability won’t as a result face severe cuts in their own Social Security benefits. These family members are contributing to their families and their communities in way that should be recognized when it comes to their future financial stability,” said Marty Ford, Senior Executive Office, Public Policy at The Arc of the United States.
“When family caregivers have to take time out of the workforce to fulfill caregiving roles, they should not be penalized,” stated Joe Caldwell, Director of Long-Term Services and Supports Policy at the National Council on Aging. “This legislation values their vital contributions to loved ones and society by protecting their future economic security in later life.”
Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women said, "Including a caregiver credit in the Social Security system will go a long way toward valuing the unpaid care work done by family members -- predominantly women. NOW thanks Sen. Murphy for introducing this important and forward-looking legislation."
“Senator Murphy’s bill helps to ensure that those who choose to put family first and provide full-time homecare to a child or spouse in their own home have a chance at a stable retirement through access to social security benefits. The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act addresses the injustice of having to choose between one’s retirement and ensuring that their loved one lives with dignity and receives compassionate care. We thank Senator Murphy for his leadership,” said Laura Reyes, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
“The millions of caregivers in our country, primarily women, deserve to be recognized and compensated through our Social Security system. That’s why the Center for Community Change Action believes that a caregiver credit must be a central element of expanding Social Security. We thank Senator Murphy for becoming a leader in this effort,” said Steve Savner, Director of Public Policy, Center for Community Change Action.
The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act will create a credit that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits. In order to qualify, caregivers must provide care for a minimum of 80 hours per month to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, aunt, or uncle who cannot perform daily living activities without assistance. The credit, which individuals can claim for up to 60 months, is progressive and would vary on an income-based sliding scale. A caregiver’s Social Security credit will decrease in value as the caregiver earns closer to the average national wage. The credit will phase out when the caregiver earns more than the average nation wage. Individuals who do not earn an income will receive a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is an original cosponsor of the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. The bill has 54 cosponsors in the House.
A PDF of the bill can be found here.