WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand has reintroduced a bill to Congress that would provide Social Security credits to people who care for sick family at home.
In a virtual press conference Tuesday, Sen. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the millions of people who leave the workforce and become unpaid caregivers to young, sick, disabled or elderly family deserve compensation for the service they are providing.
“Families should never be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and ensuring the security of retirement,” she said. “We cannot continue to penalize workers who take time out of the workforce to take care of a sick child, an ailing grandparent or a disabled spouse by denying them Social Security credits during that period.
The credits would not be counted as compensation for people caring for a veteran, allowing people caring for military veterans to continue receiving other forms of targeted caregiver aid that the federal government already provides while receiving the Social Security credits.
Under the law reintroduced by Sen. Gillibrand and two other Democratic senators, people who provide unpaid care at least 80 hours a month to a dependent relative younger than 12, or a chronically dependent person who cannot perform basic activities without help will continue to earn the maximum of four Social Security credits per year.
Those credits are the unit of measure that the Social Security Administration weighs when determining someone’s eligibility for benefits. One credit represents $1,640 in total Social Security-weighed wages earned, and a person can earn up to four credits per year. To qualify for benefits after age 65, a worker has to have at least 40 credits.
Additionally, total Social Security benefits are calculated based on how much a worker made in their lifetime, indexed to account for changes in average wages and measured over the 35 years when a worker earned the most amount of money. People who work less than 35 years have zero-earning years calculated for their benefits, which can lower the benefit level.
“The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act would recognize caregiving for what it is — work — and allow caregivers to continue to build towards their retirement,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “I’m proud to be introducing this bill and look forward to getting it passed.”
The SSCCA has been introduced every year since 2017 by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., who is the main sponsor of the bill this year, with Sens. Gillibrand and Christine “Tina” Smith, D-Minn. as co-sponsors.
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