No Money, More Problems.
Imagine working your job, but for no pay. But not just any job. This job has difficult and unpredictable days and countless nights spent in overtime—all without monetary compensation. This is the life of a typical family caregiver: working—often full-time— and not getting paid for it.
Nearly eighteen million Americans care for a family member or friend who is chronically ill or disabled over the age of 65.1 If paid for this work at the average rate of a formal caregiver, the contributions of family caregivers would add up to $470 billion per year.2 Meanwhile, caregivers spend an average of about $7,000 out-of-pocket on caregiving per year, including rent, home modifications, medical costs, and long-term services.3 Some caregivers also lose opportunities to work for pay, costing individuals an average of $303,880 in lost wages, pension, and Social Security income.4
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Policy makers and concerned citizens hold the key to a better way. Tax credits can cover the additional costs of caregiving. Longer paid family leave and stronger job protections can make caregiving more compatible with paid labor. Social security credits can prevent knock-on effects of caregiving into later life. The California Task Force on Family Caregiving is exploring these options to create a more financially secure future for caregivers.
1 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Families Care for an Aging America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved online from: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23606/families-caring-for-an-aging-america
2 Reinhard, Feinberg, Choula & Houser (2015). Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update, Undeniable Progress, but Big Gaps Remain, Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. Retrieved online from: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/valuing-the-invaluable-2015-update-new.pdf
3 Rainville, C., Skufca, L., & Mehegan, L. (2016, November). Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report. (Report for the AARP) Retrieved online from: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/ltc/2016/family-caregiving-cost-survey-res-ltc.pdf
4 MetLife Mature Market Institute, National Alliance for Caregiving, Center for Long-Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College. (2011, June). The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents. Retrieved online at: https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/caregiving-cost-working-caregivers.html#key%20findings