WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), on Friday reintroduced legislation that would allow caregivers to receive a Social Security credit. The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act would provide retirement compensation in the form of Social Security credits to individuals who left the workforce to care for their loved ones.

“Taking care of a loved one is work and should be treated that way. But right now, the system penalizes the tens of millions of Americans who leave the workforce or reduce their hours to care for a family member because working less means not paying into Social Security. I’ve heard firsthand from Connecticut families struggling with the financial impact of this, and we’ve got to do better for our caregivers. This legislation would make sure that the selfless decision to care for a loved one no longer comes with the costly consequences,” said Murphy.

“Especially during COVID-19, we’ve seen more and more workers have to make the impossible choice between receiving Social Security or caring for their loved ones,” said Schneider. “Americans who make the selfless decision to leave the workforce to care for their family or friends should not be financially penalized. This commonsense legislation will finally recognize caregiving as work and reduce financial hardship for American families.”

“Those who leave the workforce to care for their loved ones must not be penalized for doing so,” said Meng. “Most who do work extremely hard and very long hours, and are already struggling with the financial and emotional impact of being a family caregiver. We should do all we can to make things easier for them, and this legislation would do that by providing the relief they deserve. I’m proud to join Senator Murphy and Congressman Schneider in introducing the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, and I call on all my colleagues in both chambers to support this critical bill.”

Joining Murphy, Schneider and Meng, the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in the Senate.

More than 1 in 5 Americans are currently involved in family caregiving to loved ones who are ill, disabled, or elderly, and 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.

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, grandchild, aunt, or uncle who cannot perform daily living activities without assistance. The credit, which individuals can claim for up to 60 month and for months prior to the bill’s enactment, 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 national wage. Individuals who do not earn an income will receive a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage.

This legislation has been endorsed by the following organizations: Alliance for Retired Americans, The Arc of the United States, The National Alliance for Caregiving, The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging: n4a, The National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, The Sibling Leadership Network, Social Security Works, Women’s Institute for Secure Retirement (WISER).

You can read more about the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act here.