Lowey Proposes Increasing Social Security Benefits For Caregivers

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Rep. Nita Lowey, center, at a press conference at Mount Kisco Child Care Center.
Rep. Nita Lowey, center, at a press conference at Mount Kisco Child Care Center. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey announced she will introduce legislation in Congress that would allow for caregivers who look after loved ones to get increased Social Security benefits at a Monday press conference at Mount Kisco Child Care Center.

Lowey intends to introduce her version in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 8, while a companion version for the Senate is planned. The federal bill would give what Lowey called a “modest increase” in Social Security benefits and would be for individuals who qualify.

Lowey cited the challenges that caregivers face, including leaving the workforce or reducing their hours.

“This substantial sacrifice can create immediate financial hardship and jeopardize retirement,” she said.

Lowey, a Democratic lawmaker whose district includes much of Westchester County, also contended that the proposal would benefit women, who make up the majority of unpaid caregivers. She also cited women who have less saved for retirement due to factors such as earning less than men or working for fewer years on average.

Mount Kisco Child Care Center also shares space with My Second Home, a program offered by Family Services of Westchester that assists senior citizens.

Rina Bellamy, director of My Second Home, was among those who joined Lowey. She also praised her for advocating for caregivers.

“They need to be validated for that hard work.”

Several caregivers from around the region, whose loved ones have been helped by My Second Home or Mount Kisco Child Care Center, came to the press conference and shared their experiences.

Andrea Cicchelli, a Mount Kisco resident who was joined with her sister, Elizabeth Hofer, recalled their mom having to move in last September and mentioned their father died of ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Cicchelli mentioned the challenges, including that their mother cannot be home alone, that they have children to take care and that they work full time. She praised involvement of My Second Home with their mother, who attends five days a week, calling the organization a “blessing.”

Joan Fuller, a Rockland County resident whose mother attends My Second Home, said it “has been such a blessing.” Fuller, however, mentioned her brother who serves as a primary caregiver and the impact it has on his financial situation, with retirement mentioned as an example.

Patricia Gadson, a Mount Kisco resident who recalled taking over care of her nephew whose mother had a drug addiction and died, praised Mount Kisco Child Care Center for the support it has given.

Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham (D-North Salem), whose district includes the northeastern portion of the county, was hon hand  support Lowey's initiative, calling the congresswoman a “real champion for our seniors.”

Randye Sundel, a Mount Pleasant resident, recalled giving care for several members of her family who had various illnesses, including her brother, mother, father and now her husband. She brought up the concerns that a caregiver faces, including running out of money to give care and juggling our responsibilities.

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Of course, let's spend some more money.

This will only drain SS that much faster. Where's the suggestion on how to fund this?

Why is it that Democrats never contemplate the expense or how to pay for it?

I'm certain that her big check will be the first voluntary contribution to the cause. Of course, she'll continue to write big checks for it monthly. Just watch, she'll do it anonymously so nobody will know what a generous person she is. Oh, yes, this is an election year, I forgot.

How about extending the SS Death Benefit for beneficiaries who are full or part-time college students through college graduation or age 21 instead of cutting off at age 18 or HS graduation as it is now?