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Family Caregivers Could Accrue Social Security Credits If Bill Passes

March 28, 2016

Family caregivers will be eligible to accrue Social Security credits if a bill currently making its way through both houses of Congress is passed into law.

The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act would apply to anyone who provides care for 80 or more hours a month to a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle.

“Millions of people across the country sacrifice so much to care for loved ones,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who introduced the bill, said in a March 18 press release. “I’ve listened to caregivers across Connecticut, and many were forced to cut back on hours or leave their jobs.

“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,” he added.

The bill allows family caregivers to accrue Social Security credits for five years at a level based on their previous yearly earnings, capped at the average national income. Family caregivers who were not previously working would have their credits based on half of the average national income.

“We are long overdue for a paradigm shift in terms of how America thinks of work,” Murphy said. “This bill would acknowledge that taking care of a child or a parent is work too.”

A 2015 study published jointly by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that as many as 40 million adults in the U.S. provided unpaid care. Nearly 60 percent said that their caregiving burden was moderate to high, and half said they did not have a choice in taking on their caregiving role.

Murphy’s bill has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the National Alliance for Caregiving, the National Council on Aging, Caring Across Generations, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

— by Matthew Ozga

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