It’s Time for Caregiver Credits

Strengthen Social Security Most Americans understand that Social Security is a vital tool for our economy and for millions of retired Americans. In 2011, our Social Security system kept more than 21 million people out of poverty, especially women of color and women who work at low-wage jobs.

Caregiver benefits are an essential service for children, the ill, the disabled, and the elderly, as well as for caregivers themselves. Put yourself in a minimum-wage earning woman’s shoes for a second. You’ve just had a child a few months ago and, on top of that, your mother has fallen severely ill. Of course you want to take time out of the workforce to care for both your child and your mother, but how can you afford to?

Without caregiver credit, not only does a caregiver lose time (and money) in his or her current job, but also that worker can be hurt later during retirement. Social Security benefits are based on a worker’s highest 35 years of earnings, and those benefits can be reduced because of fewer paid employment years and lower wages during employment.

Unfortunately, women are at a higher risk of falling into this trap. Women make up anywhere between 59-75% of caregivers during a given year. Although some men are caregivers as well, female caregivers may spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care to loved ones. Most of the time, these women are over the age of 40, married and working outside of the home, for an annual income of $35,000.

Women already have a hard enough time as is: limited employment opportunities, lower wages, longer life expectancy and fewer sources of retirement income. All of these factors contribute to women relying more on Social Security later in life, while simultaneously receiving fewer Social Security benefits and annual incomes than men.

Caregiver credit will ensure that workers are not penalized in retirement despite time out of the workforce as an unpaid caregiver. Take NOW’s action and ask your representative to cosponsor the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act (H.R. 5024).

7 responses to “It’s Time for Caregiver Credits

  1. Having been a caregiver, I know personally the essential role caregivers play in the lives of so many.

  2. Caregiver’s have been paid in Japan for decades/It’s time the U.S. followed suit.This is supposed to be a nation for all the people/we must stop marginalizing the elderly and their caregivers to protect the integrity of this country and all of it’s citizens.

  3. Please cosponsor the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act(HR 5024).
    Deena Mark

  4. I was a stay at home mother for 18 years with three children. After I divorced, I realized that the IRS summary of Earning Statement did not recognize me as a partner/wage earner in that marriage even though my name was at the top of every tax return and I was required to sign the yearly tax return as married filing jointly. I have 18 years of zero’s on my Earning Statement.
    I never worked harder than when I raised my children. My ex-husband is five years younger than I am and if I have to wait until he collects his SSI to be eligible for a larger portion of his earnings, then I may be waiting a long, long time. He may wait until he is 75 years old to collect his government pension. I have tried to fight the SSI’s determination and applied for reconsideration of disability benefits and was denied again. I need help going before an Administrative Law Judge because I do not have the training to defend myself.

  5. Since you were married more than ten years, you can collect Social Security retirement benefits on your ex-husband’s record when you reach age 62. It has nothing to do with when he takes his own benefits.

    (There are other requirements, such as that you will not be able to collect on your ex-husband’s record if you are remarried at that time.)

    Disability is a separate matter, I can’t comment on that.

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