Wouldn't it be nice if family caregivers could receive SS credits for their service?

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This morning I thought about how much family caregivers save the family and taxpayers money by providing full-time care for parents. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a place that FT caregivers could register and receive SS credit for their service? That would take so much of the financial burden off of caregivers. But then I realized that it probably would not be doable. How could you give an caregiver for elders credit without having to also give stay-at-home mothers credit? Maybe by a doctor writing that without the caregiver, the person would have had to enter a NH.

Really, SS credit even if reported at minimum wage would be helpful to many.

8 Comments

JessieBelle - Thinking back to my old policy program days in the 1980's, doing something like this as an Amendment to the SS Act could have happened. But given the current increasing gap between wealthy and not in this future "gilded age" we are approaching, I just don't see any increase in benefits or increase in a wider pool of enrollees into SS ever happening.

back in the 1930's when SS first started, all domestic and agricultural workers were totally excluded. A lot of this was likely to have had some racial overtones as overwhelmingly domestic workers were African American. The agricultural were also; or poor illiterate white; or bracero program hispanic. If I'm remembering right, maybe as high as 70% of domestic & agricultural were AA in the 1930's. You were a white somewhat educated man working in commerce or industry in order for SS to be a benefit and your wife didn't need to work outside the home or be paid. The mindset of most elected officials still haven't changed much since then as most running for higher offices have wives that do not work - so the hubby is tone deaf as to why someone should ever be paid for caregiving or other wife/daughter duties. Wife may be appointed to boards and be paid well to serve on boards but so often they do not "work" in a normal job situation.

Female spouses still get the short stick most of the time with SS unless they really make an effort to cleverly plan their retirement or marriage situation. So much of all the talk on SS now is about moving it to private sector investment situations, which if it happens is going to leave a lot of folks even more impoverished as they age.

The US just flat does not place any value on caregiving done by family for family. No matter what lip-service politicians give to family values. The home health care corporation can charge you $ 25 hr which they pay the worker $ 10 and that is smart business sense. Even for the states which pay a caregiver - like what CA does for the IHSS program - they pay minimum wage to maybe $ 12 hr and maybe for 20 hrs a week so that it never is a full time job with the requirements that full time positions require. In no way would it ever be a living wage. Caregiving is just looked on a something you choose to do and do for free by & large.

If your elderly mother pays you for caregiving and you don't have a well crafted legal document caregiving contract and taxes paid, you all will be penalized for payment if mom applies for Medicaid or any other at-need programs.

Really the caregiver and mom at home issue, are both women's rights issues. Personally I never ever vote for a candidate who's spouse or partner does not have their own full time job - even if I don't agree with their positions on all things. The fact that they have to come home to a spouse who actually has to get up and work and juggle the demands of home, work, family, pets….well it makes them at least somewhat aware of the costs both financial & emotional of caregiving and probably also themselves participating in all as well.
It takes 40 credits to qualify for Soc Sec. That is only 10 years, who hasn't worked for 10 years? Even jobs while in college count. I do recall feeling (as a SAHM) that I deserved SS credits....but I was employed again and paying SS taxes after the youngest was in school. I don't dismiss your sentiment, but just feel there are not many individuals who have not worked 10 yrs. The wealthy ladies--don't need SS. And those who aren't wealthy--are already working & get their credits before age 30.
But isn't it true that the longer you work and the more money you make, the more you get up to the maximum?
Yes the more you pay into Social Security (they have a formula for your 5 highest earning years, within a certain time) the larger your check is. So the OP'S question then becomes, who's going to pay me to take care of mom? Unfortunately there isn't money available for gov't to pay us. And when it does pay it is only a tiny amt and only to those who qualify for Medicaid, not the middleclassed.
P.s. I am unaware of any existing "registry" where other private-duty volunteers can report their hours and receive SS credits. Interesting idea, but the system is based on payments collected providing payments made.
I had to get mom qualified with medicaid, and now I am paid for 3 hrs a day by Nurse's Unlimited at slightly above minimum wage, I did this to add to my social security since as a teacher i needed 7 more years to qualify for full retirement and could not get that work where i live with both my parents. I am the resident caregiver for both. I may not get much in the end but I will get both ss and teacher retirement if not what I think I should.
What would be even better would be some kind of credit for health insurance. I know a guy who quit a job at 59 to take care of his mother and doesn't expect to have health insurance again until he qualifies for Medicare. I myself pay for it out of my monthly retirement, but it's my single biggest monthly expense even for a plan with a $6,500 annual deductible.

Not that I disagree on the SS point, but I had so many years of paid employment that a few years of minimum wage wouldn't have helped me much at all. What would help is cheaper and better medical coverage.
Regardless of the merits of the issue, there's a larger issue that could cause politicians to become apoplectic (if some of them aren't already):

How would SS benefits for caregivers be funded, from where and from whom? Would payrolls taxes be increased? Would sales and/or other use taxes be enacted? What methods of funding could possibly appeal to a congress with members who don't see the harm in shutting down the federal government to accomplish their goals?

Given the paralysis in Washington over the last years, I doubt any agreement could ever be reached on the funding issue, let alone the justification therefor, which I'm sure would be seen in less than positive terms by people who either haven't reached this stage of life or feel that commercial entities should just be expanded to provide the services now provided for free by family.

I would start with reducing or adding dedicated taxes to politicians' salaries, but that would never happen.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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