Act Would Recognize Sacrifices Of Caregivers

Although it would appear, in this political day and age, to have much chance of passage, a New York congresswoman showed some real courage in the summer when she introduced the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act.
http://gty.im/103022754
The measure, if passed, would offer some small attempt to make whole wage earners who forego income to care for their children or, increasingly, elderly parents or other relatives. Since Social Security payments are based solely on income, and not acts of kindness or meeting familial obligations, caregivers often face a grim future when it’s their turn to retire.
On the website of the National Organization for Women, which backs the measure because caregivers are disproportionately female, the act introduced by U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey is recognized for its fairness.
“The caregiver credit option is a responsible preventive measure,” the site states. “It would provide improved retirement security for millions of Americans, especially women, whom the caregiver role often falls upon, and recognize the valuable caregiving services that they provide for our country’s children and the growing elderly population.”
“It’s hard to feel optimistic about its passage in this political environment,” Paula Span wrote a The New York Times article about the measure. “But you can’t really argue with the problem it tries to address. The toll that family caregiving can take isn’t only emotional and physical; it’s also financial, but not always in obvious ways.
“The groceries you pick up on the way to see your mother, the utility bills you quietly pay for your aunt, you’re aware of those. If you cut back your hours, turn down promotions or leave your job, as some caregivers feel forced to, you’re keenly conscious of your lost income.
“But I wonder how many people consider the ways that their own retirements, years down the road, may suffer. The pressures of caring for a disabled or dependent family member can reduce Social Security income for the rest of the caregiver’s life.”
The impact can be profound, according to the article.
“A MetLife study in 2011, based on data from the national Health and Retirement Study, estimated that men who reduced work hours to provide care for parents received almost $38,000 less in Social Security benefits,” Span continued. “If they stopped working, they gave up more than $144,000. The damage from cutting back on work was worse for women: they lost more than $64,000 in Social Security benefits. Leaving the work force to care for a parent cost them more than $131,000 in addition to the lost wages and, sometimes, pension contributions themselves.”
“We should ensure that caregivers won’t have to be torn by the impossible choice of taking care of a family member, or earning less for themselves and their family,” Lowey stated via email

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