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Backers of Caregivers' Credit Don't Want It Lost in D.C. Shuffle

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Friday, September 17, 2021   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The pandemic is shining a new light on the burdens felt by family caregivers, and a bill in Congress would remove some of the financial pressure for people providing unpaid care to family members. South Dakota advocates are joining the push for approval.

The Credit for Caring Act proposes a federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible family caregivers.

Erik Nelson, associate state director for advocacy at AARP South Dakota, said families are the backbone of the long-term care system - and given the added challenges they've faced during the pandemic, it's time for lawmakers to step up and help them.

"In addition to the direct out-of-pocket spending, caregivers are also experiencing indirect financial setbacks," he said, "and so, it's important to not have them have to dip into personal spending or personal savings to support their family members."

AARP estimates the average family caregiver spends about $7,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses. The bill has bipartisan support, but Nelson said its biggest obstacle is the other pressing needs facing federal lawmakers right now. An estimated 90,000 South Dakotans are family caregivers.

Nelson said the help these caregivers provide often can go unnoticed. He added that many of them still hold down a regular job, and don't see their caregiving as "extra work."

"Even if it means coming over and cleaning the house or making sure bills are paid, to much more intensive acts that caregivers do," he said, "it's important for them to be recognized."

Nelson said the bill will see some major focus next week, as AARP makes a targeted push in support of the tax credit. The proposal has support from other organizations as well, including the Alzheimer's Association and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Disclosure: AARP South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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