Sanders, Murphy Introduce Bill to Provide Retirement for Family Caregivers

WASHINGTON, March 18 – Sen. Bernie Sanders was an original cosponsored of the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy. The bill creates a Social Security Caregiver credit and provides modest retirement compensation to individuals who have had to leave the workforce or reduce their hours to care for a loved one. 

Approximately 65 million 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, total wage, private pension and Social Security losses due to caregiving total more than $300,000, threatening retirement security. Women, who make up two-thirds of unpaid caregivers, are disproportionately impacted. In Vermont, the 60-and-over population is expected to grow by 53 percent by 2030.

“A nation is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable. Every day millions of Americans put their lives on hold in order to provide critical care for their loved ones.” Sanders said. “This bill will ensure that every American, including caregivers, are able to retire with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“Millions of people across the country sacrifice so much to care for loved ones. I’ve listened to caregivers across Connecticut, and many were forced to cut back on hours or leave their jobs,” Murphy said. “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.”

“People who care for loved ones deserve our gratitude. Penalizing caregivers by docking the Social Security benefits they count on is backwards. I’m introducing the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act because Washington should support those who support their families,” Murphy added.

Murphy and Sanders’ legislation will create a credit that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits. In order to qualify, caregivers must provide care for a minimum of 80 hours per month to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, aunt, or uncle who cannot perform daily living activities without assistance. The credit, which individuals can claim for up to 60 months, is progressive and would vary on an income-based sliding scale. A caregiver’s Social Security credit will decrease in value as the caregiver earns closer to the average national wage. The credit will phase out when the caregiver earns more than the average nation wage. Individuals who do not earn an income will receive a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. The bill has 54 cosponsors in the House.

Sanders introduced The Social Security Expansion Act last year, which would increase revenue and extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 45 years by eliminating the cap on payroll taxes for those who earn more than $250,000 a year.

Click here for full text of The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act.