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Our voices: Social Security for IHSS parent and spouse providers

UDW asked and you answered!

Hundreds of spouse and parent caregivers have responded to UDW’s survey on how ineligibility for Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits impacts our families. Currently home care workers who care for their spouse or child are unable to receive important retirement and social insurance program benefits. Due to state and federal laws, these providers are currently unable to make Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) contributions on their paychecks, which fund these benefits.

Of providers surveyed, approximately 75 percent of us care for our child, while 17 percent care for our spouse.

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An overwhelming 92% of those surveyed are in favor of changing state and/or federal laws to allow parent and spouse providers to receive Social Security, Medicare and other benefits.

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Nearly 91% of providers surveyed said this issue should be a high priority for UDW.

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About 90% of surveyed providers want to fight for Social Security and Medicare knowing if we win, we would be required to contribute 7.65% of our wages to FICA.

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And about 81% of providers who were surveyed want to fight for unemployment benefits knowing if we win, we would be required to contribute a small portion of our wages to the SUI program.

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In addition, many of us expressed worry about what we will do as we age without the security that comes with Social Security and Medicare.

“I have no retirement plans as a parent provider. Not only do I have to worry about who will care for my daughter Katie when I am unable to care for her, but I will have to worry about how I will live as well.” -Claire Kaufman, an IHSS provider from El Dorado County

“We live month to month, because I don’t make much as my daughter Delaina’s full-time home care provider. And if something were to happen and I lost my job as her provider, I wouldn’t even qualify for unemployment. In the time it could take me to find a new job, we could lose our home, our car – everything.” -Christine Baur, an IHSS provider from Kern County

Our next steps

This year, we are sponsoring Assembly Bill 1930, which would establish an advisory committee to look at the impact that the denial of state unemployment insurance and federal Medicare and Social Security benefits has on IHSS spouse and parent providers. This will create awareness of the problem, and educate lawmakers and the public on this injustice.

On a federal level, we’re supporting the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act of 2016 in the United States Senate, and asking California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to stand with us by cosponsoring the bill. The bill is a step toward winning Social Security and Medicare for parent and spouse home care workers throughout the country.

It’s not too late to share your thoughts and experiences with UDW. If you are a spouse or parent IHSS provider, click here to take the survey. And click here to tell Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer to join us in our fight to win justice for home care.