Professor of Health Economics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Informal care provided by family members improves quality of life for frail elders, allows them to remain in the community instead of in nursing homes, and saves Medicaid dollars. Providing the care also imposes opportunity costs on caregivers that weaken their own retirement security. Retirement Security for Family Elder Care Givers with Labor Force Employment proposes to provide up to four years of Social Security credit to individuals who provide care to elders. The elders must be certified to need levels of care that would qualify for Medicaid coverage. The value of the credit would be the caregiver’s average wage in the three years before care giving interrupted earnings. The authors suggest the credit could be financed based on the reduction in public spending for nursing home care.