HARTFORD – During a meeting in Meriden, Connecticut, with family caregivers, advocates, providers, and consumers of home care, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced the reintroduction of his Social Security Caregiver Credit Act – legislation that will 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. The bill will also authorize funds to provide medical training to family caregivers. U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are original cosponsors of the bill.
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, income losses due to caregiving total more than $300,000, threatening retirement security. Women, who make up two-thirds of unpaid caregivers, are disproportionately impacted. More than half of Connecticut residents age 40 and older say they have provided care on an unpaid basis for an adult loved one.
“People who put their lives on hold to tend to someone they love are often forced to cut back on hours or walk away from their jobs altogether. Right now, because working less means not paying into Social Security, the selfless act of caring for a loved can come with costly consequences,” said Murphy. “Penalizing these caregivers by docking their Social Security benefits puts them in a financial hole many never recover from. That’s just wrong. I’m introducing this bill because Washington needs to do more to support people in Connecticut who sacrifice so much to care for their families.”
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, grandparent, 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.
Murphy’s Social Security Caregiver Credit Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: The National Council on Aging, The National Organization for Women, The National Alliance for Caregiving, The Sibling Leadership Network, The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Social Security Works, Autism Speaks, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, The Arc of the United States, and Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby.