Level the playing field for women

In last week’s blog we shared some surprising statistics showing women the importance of planning ahead for their long-term care needs. Some obstacles to proper planning we discussed are gender gaps, caregiving responsibilities and gray divorce.

We have learned in recent years how important it is to pay attention to current and future legislation. There is discussion and proposed legislation that can directly impact women’s financial security. We must all be aware and help level the playing field for women now and generations to come. Some of these ideas are:

Valuing unpaid care

  • The Social Security Caregiver Credits Act of 2021 proposed the creation of a credit that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits. Traditionally, Social Security has supported family caregivers – typically women – through a spousal benefit. Today, however, many women are not eligible for this benefit because they are not married, or they qualify for their own worker’s benefit.
  • Allow caregivers to contribute to IRAs if they left the workforce to become a caregiver for a year or more. 28% of caregivers say they stop saving because of caregiving.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employers from using salary history to set pay. Among other benefits, it would also update and strengthen the 1963 Equal Pay Act.
  • The Build Back Better framework includes expanding access to long-term care services under Medicaid, free high-quality pre-school to all 3- and 4-year-old children and high-quality affordable childcare for low- and middle-class children.

What Can Women Do Now to Help Plan for the Future?

  • Delay retirement until age 70 when maximum social security will kick in.
  • If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based upon your ex-spouses work record (even if they have remarried) if you meet certain qualifications.
  • If you are married, retire later than your spouse.
  • Plan for the possible loss of cognitive and functional capacity.
  • Include retirement benefits when deciding to take a new job or staying with your current employer.
  • Contribute to a 401(k), 403(b) or a 457 plan through your employer (if available) or open an IRA.
  • If you can afford it, take advantage of catch-up contributions if you are over 50.
  • If your employer offers LTC insurance, consider buying it!
  • Prenups aren’t just for the rich anymore. Many younger people are opting for them to protect against debt and lost income if one stays home to be a caregiver.
  • Run for public office or support women who are running.
  • Know that your needs matter—they are not secondary to those that you are caring for.

Even with a regular plan for savings, long-term care costs can be too great for many individuals and couples to afford. An experienced elder law attorney who follows a life care planning model can help you develop a plan to protect your assets, identify and apply for public benefits, and find quality care. As we have said many times before, “the more advance planning you do, the more options you will have”. We are here to help! Please call Hurley Elder Care Law at 404-843-0121 to discuss your situation.

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