We certainly are living in very divisive times. On the big issues of the day, party and ideological lines are drawn with little, if any, common ground. And, the collegiality of Congresses past – the “disagree without being disagreeable” comity – seems like something for the history books. But is that really the whole story?
We vow ‘in sickness and in health,’ and ‘for richer or poorer,’ hoping to never experience illnesses or financial difficulties. When tragedy strikes, spouses are often left battling both; taking on the huge responsibilities of caring for their husbands or wives’ needs, and managing their health and recovery. Yvette and Walter from North Carolina live this struggle. After Walt’s stroke 2 years ago, Yvette has, “as caregiver and wife learned to manage…medical appointments, lawn care, repairs and finances," all while continuing to work full time. Sadly, this is reality for so many family caregivers. “The hardest thing has been the financial loss out of our household…I use over $1,000 from my paycheck monthly to cover what Walt's retirement and social security disability checks do not cover.” This Valentine’s Day, we are reminded of the incredible labor of love that family caregivers across the country provide for their spouses, parents, siblings, and others every day. Stories, like Yvette and Walt’s, demonstrate the need for a caregiver tax credit to support families struggling with the financial challenges of at-home caregiving. In 2016, the average family caregiver spent almost $7,000 on out of pocket costs – all to help their loved ones remain at home and in their communities – where they want to be. However, we know that out of pocket costs vary. According to a 2016 AARP report:
Last week, U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (S. 1151/H.R. 2505) and AARP endorsed the legislation. The bill would help support America’s family caregivers by offering a federal tax credit for those who qualify.
En español | Think for a moment how busy and chaotic everyday life can be: juggling careers, kids, finances and more. Now imagine also caring for a parent, spouse or child with a disability, maybe even around the clock. Every day about 40 million Americans — myself included — care for our loved ones so they can live independently at home and in their communities, where they want to be.
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