As a long-term caregiver and volunteer advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I want to thank you, once again, for translating your passion for your constituents’ well-being into action.
I was pleased to be asked to stand with you in July of this year when you announced your intention to introduce "The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would provide an earnings credit within Social Security to caregivers, thereby increasing retirement income for those who care for family members and loved ones.
Your bill particularly resonates with those of us who are dealing, or have dealt, with Alzheimer’s care. By and large care giving is delivered by women, many of whom have had to leave the workforce to take care of an ailing spouse or parent. As you well understand, care giving is a job requiring long hours, patience and a host of other skills.
Statistics tell only part of the story since so many caregivers don’t define themselves as such. In 2013, a reported 15.5 million unpaid caregivers, 66% of whom are women, provided 17.7 billion hours of care valued at more than $220 billion. Their efforts represent an enormous contribution to our country. Doesn’t our country owe them something in return? You, Congresswoman Lowey, say “Yes.”
Your advocacy to create the National Alzheimer’s Plan signed into law in January 2011, adding $120 million in funds, is a wonderful start but Congress must act to further increase the level of disease research and support services to meet an ever-growing need. Increased funding of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, in conjunction with passage of the "Social Security Caregiver Credit Act," would go a long way in helping to relieve the emotional stress and financial burden of those extraordinary, ordinary people who provide care to their loved ones.
I know I speak for the entire Alzheimer’s and caregiver community when I say how grateful we are to have you in our corner always ready to come out fighting for us.