U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Senate colleagues to announce legislation that would help caregivers who left the workforce receive retirement compensation through Social Security credits. The Social Security earnings provided in the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act would be added to an individual’s earnings to determine future Social Security benefits and can be claimed for up to 60 months. In order to qualify, caregivers must provide care for a minimum of 80 hours per month to someone who cannot perform daily living activities without assistance. The credit varies on an income-based sliding scale, and individuals who do not earn an income will receive a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage. Additionally, the credit is retroactive and will grant credit for time spent caregiving prior to the bill’s enactment.
“Caregivers should never have to choose between caring for a loved one and financial stability,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Social Security Caregiver Act would help legitimize the essential work caregivers provide by ensuring they have access to critical Social Security benefits and a stable retirement plan. I am proud to support this common-sense legislation that will provide much-needed financial relief and put Social Security benefits in the hands of caregivers.”
Today, 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, and more than 2 million women have left the U.S. workforce since the pandemic began. This legislation would be a first step toward providing much-needed financial relief for caregivers across New York. In 2017, 2.5 million caregivers in New York provided approximately $31 billion and 2.1 billion hours in unpaid care.
The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act is endorsed by 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, and The Arc of the United States.