Introduced in House (07/29/2015)
To date there are 59 co-sponsors in congress
Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2015
This bill amends title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) (OASDI) of the Social Security Act with respect to determining entitlement to and the amount of any monthly benefit, including any lump-sum death payment, payable under OASDI on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of any individual. Deems such an individual to have been paid a wage (according to a specified formula) during each month during which the individual was engaged for at least 80 hours in providing care to a dependent relative without monetary compensation for up to five years of such service. Makes this Act inapplicable in the case of any monthly benefit or lump-sum death payment if a larger benefit or payment would be payable without its application.
“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.
With that in mind, 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.
Family members often take time away from work to care for loved ones with disabilities. This proposal (still in Congress) seeks to ensure that they don’t lose out on Social Security retirement benefits for doing so.
“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.”
The credit would be applied on a sliding scale depending on the caregiver’s earnings, with a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage.
Under a bill known as the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, people who leave their jobs or limit their hours in order to care for a relative would be able to continue accruing credits with Social Security.
“Millions of people across the country sacrifice so much to care for loved ones,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who introduced the bill. “Penalizing caregivers by docking the Social Security benefits they count on is backwards.”
In addition to Murphy, the bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and there is a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
This is not the only bill up for consideration in Congress designed to ease the financial burden on family caregivers. A separate proposal calls for a tax credit of up to $3,000 annually for family members who care for older people and those with disabilities.
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 CertifiedCare, 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 Dr. Cathleen Carr JD PhD