A public opinion survey question on a proposal to give people credit for work done caring for children and family members with disabilities when calculating their Social Security benefits resulted in 67.5 percent of those surveyed favoring the idea.
“Taking care of a family member is one of the most important jobs anyone can have and people who make that choice should not be penalized by having their Social Security benefits reduced,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “A caregiver credit would help preserve the future financial stability of family members who stay home or reduce their work hours to take care of a loved one. It’s good for individuals, it’s good for workers and it’s good for our whole society.”
The poll also said that 38.7 percent expressed strong support for the proposal, and only 10.6 percent strongly opposed the measure. The poll of 475 likely voters has a margin of error of 4.5 percent, 95 times out of 100.
“These results show that Maine people don’t just support protecting Social Security, as poll after poll has shown, but want to strengthen and expand the program and make it more equitable,” said Maine People’s Alliance Executive Director Jesse Graham. “The average woman spends 12 years out of the workforce caring for children or elderly parents and it’s time to recognize their work and protect their retirement.”
The poll results show that caregiver credits are popular in both Northern and Southern Maine and with Mainers of all ages, genders and political beliefs. 63.1% of Republicans and 65.4% of self-described Tea Party supporters supported the proposal. The Highest levels of support were measured among women, Democrats, and those over the age of 65.
“There are lots of ways to make this happen. Under the plan we support, a caregiver would be given credit for half of the average wage for years working in a caregiving role and would be able to access a minimum of five years of credits” said Graham. “By simply raising the cap on income subject to Social Security assessment, making sure millionaires pay the same percentage of their income as the rest of us, we could both secure the financial future of Social Security in perpetuity and implement programs like this one to make the system fairer and more robust.”