Just when the caretakers of seniors and sick people in the Big Apple are waging a fierce battle to have their work respected and to put an end to 24-hour shifts, which represent deep losses in their wages, due to unpaid hours, a bill promoted from New York At the federal level, it seeks to provide retirement protections to those who care for family members in need.
It’s all about the call Social Security Credits for Caregivers Actlegislation that would provide required points in the retirement process for millions of americans who leave their jobs to dedicate themselves to the unpaid care of loved ones who are sick, disabled or seniors.
This was announced this Tuesday byto federal senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, after announcing that he introduced in the federal Legislature a piece of law that would ensure that the retirement of those who care for their relatives without charging for it, is not threatened.
The legislator, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Elder Affairsnoted that in New York state alone there are close to 2.2 million family caregivers who provide care to their sick or handicapped relatives, which means loss of about $39 billion dollars each year, without receiving pension points for that time.
Therefore, the legislator seeks that The congress give way to his bill, which would provide retirement credits to unpaid caregivers who spend at least 80 hours a month to take care of a dependent relative, under 12 years of age or a chronically dependent person, who cannot fend for themselves, many of them older adults.
“Families should never be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and ensuring their retirement security.”, assured the Democratic Senator, while warning that care is essential in families, especially for children, the sick, the disabled and the elderly, which is why it is urgent that unpaid caregivers be provided with security for their future retirement.
“We cannot continue to penalize workers who take time out of the workforce to care for a sick child, sick grandparent, or disabled spouse by denying them Social Security credits during that time. The Social Security Caregivers Credit Act would recognize caregiving for what it is (work), and allow caregivers to continue moving toward retirement.”
Gillibrand explained that Social Security credits are “units.” that the Social Security Administration uses to determine if a person qualifies for retirement, disability and other benefits and recalled that both the Senate and Congress must guarantee that excluded professionals and workers who do not have protections are protected when they care for their relatives in need .
Data from Social Security reveal that an American needs a total of 40 credits to qualify for retirement benefits, and in 2023, to obtain 1 credit, a minimum income of $1,640 and $6,560 toward the maximum of four credits per year, so unpaid caregivers who leave their jobs to care for relatives, or substantially reduce their hours, earn less or no credits from the Social Security. This leaves them at risk of not qualifying for benefits and jeopardizing their retirement security.
And while there are programs in New York City for family members of adults age 65 and older, the number of whom is estimated at 1.1 million, (13% of all New Yorkers) of which, according to data from the Municipal Administration, 21% are Latinos, are paid by assuming caregiving tasks, those who find themselves in unexpected situations, where they have to care for their relatives temporarily, are left in labor limbo.
This is how he assures it Edgar Pabon, employee of a financial advisory office, who for several months had to take care of his mother, after being paralyzed, and lost his job.
“We are all exposed to life suddenly surprising us with things that we never expected, such as a family member becoming seriously ill, and I believe that it is in those moments that we need all the support, not only with issues such as pension credits, which It’s obviously important, but also that we could keep our earned wages intact and not be reduced or sometimes fired,” said the 53-year-old Colombian, who urged legislators to promote deeper laws and not “mere washcloths of warm water” in pension matters.
“I think senators should show a deeper interest in helping adults when they retire, with increase in pension amounts, annual increases for the cost of living, extra premiums, bonuses, and fairer averages based on what one has earned in life and not giving us checks at the end that are a handoutwith whom it is not possible to live well, except when one is already old and needs more care and protection”, added the father of the family.
Organizations and activist groups that fight to improve conditions for home caregivers, mostly immigrant women, see Senator Gillibrand’s bill as a positive move, but consider that it falls short, since it should also include the end of long workdays to paid employees, who are not paid their full hours by care companies.
Although the proposal of the Senator Gillibrand is a positive recognition of the valuable work of caregivers, it ignores the most devaluing and dehumanizing feature of New York government-funded and publicly sanctioned care, which is the 24-hour workday in home care,” JoAnn said. Lum, of the Campaign “Aren’t I a Woman?!” from the NMASS Workers Center who advocates for respect for home caregivers.
“Working 24 hours a day up to a total of 120 hours a week has destroyed the health and families of thousands and thousands of caregivers in homes,” added the leader, while announcing that this Wednesday, May 17, A delegation of black home care workers will present a call to the United Nations (UN) to declare the 24-hour work day a crime against humanity.
“I have never heard of 24-hour shifts in my country. But, here in the United States I have worked over 12 years of 24 hour shifts. They have destroyed my body and my health. 24 hour shifts are tortuous. We can’t sleep. Also, the 24-hour shifts affected my family. I missed all the important moments with my children,” said the caregiver. Luz Estrella, from the Dominican Republic. “That is why we ask the UN to support us, to declare the 24-hour shift a crime against humanity.”
Older adults in the Big Apple in figures
- 2.2 million New Yorkers care for family members across New York
- $39 billion each year would cost their services
- 1.5 million New Yorkers are between the ages of 50 and 65
- 1.1 million older adults are in the city
- 13% is the percentage of elderly in the five counties
- 60% of older adults are women
- 40% of the elderly in the city are men
- 49% of the elderly in the Big Apple are immigrants
- 21% of New York seniors are Latino
- 22% of the city’s elderly are black
- 44% of seniors are white
- 34% of seniors do not speak English well
- 20% of older adults speak Spanish
- 30% of Latino adults live alone
- 7% of New Yorkers are seniors between the ages of 65 and 74
- 4% of New Yorkers are between the ages of 75 and 84
- 2% of New Yorkers are over the age of 85
- An estimated 1.4 million adults over the age of 65 will be in NYC by 2040
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