Benefit Bulletin: July 2016

Benefit Bulletin: July 2016

Family Caregivers Need Credit

At age 62, Susan Gross of Barboursville, Virginia, is nearing retirement age, but has no plans to stop working yet.  High prescription costs and the need to provide care for a disabled adult son and her 90-year old mother are major reasons.  With her rheumatoid arthritis medication Humira costing $3,900 a month, both Susan and her husband continue to work full time.  Susan is dependent on the health insurance coverage available through her husband’s employer, to help her afford her medications.

But in addition to health benefits, Susan needs the income from work to help cover the expenses of family caregiving.  Her 43-year old son Andrew, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, and has lived at home with Susan his entire life.  Suffering from seizures, a speech disorder and difficulties with walking and moving around safely, Andrew requires daily care.  More recently Susan moved her 90-year old mother in as well.  With day care help from one of Susan’s daughters, and other family members, Susan has been able to keep her son and mom where they want to be — out of institutions, and at home with family, while she continues to work.

Caregiving, however, is a huge commitment in time and financial resources for the caregiver, who often has to take time off from work and give up their own retirement savings to provide care for others.  Although Susan’s mom receives Railroad Retirement benefits and has a small savings to reimburse Susan for expenses, Andrew, who is too disabled to have ever worked, is dependent on Medicaid and receives only a modest monthly Social Security disability benefit of just $756.  Susan and her husband cover all the rest of Andrew’s expenses — housing, food, uncovered medical expenses, transportation, clothing, and anything else.

Susan was particularly interested to learn about The Credit For Caring Act (H.R. 4708, new bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Linda Sanchez (CA-38) and Tom Reed (NY-23), that would provide up to $3,000 in a family caregiver tax credit.  Expenses like groceries, modifications to a home, transportation to a doctors’ visits, or hiring someone to looks after an elderly patient or disabled child would qualify for the credit.

When family caregivers don’t get the support they need, they are faced with leaving their jobs, taking on significant debt, or moving their loved ones out of their homes and into costly assisted living facilities.  TSCL believes this growing problem must be addressed as soon as possible to enable older and disabled Americans to live with dignity in their homes and communities.

TSCL encourages you to contact your Members of Congress and ask your elected lawmakers to support the Credit For Caring Act (H.R. 4708).