AARP Nebraska has endorsed a bill in the 2023 legislative session to help provide Nebraskans with the workplace flexibility they need to care for their loved ones without putting their jobs and finances in jeopardy.
LB 57, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, introduced by Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, offers paid leave to Nebraska workers to care for themselves or a family member with a serious health condition, a new child, or a military family member preparing for or returning from deployment.
Nebraska is facing a caregiving crisis as both the workforce and the state’s population ages, an AARP spokesperson told members of the Legislature’s Business and Labor Committee at a Jan. 30 hearing on LB 57.
“Increasingly, the workplace will include more employees who need to combine eldercare responsibilities with their jobs upon which their economic futures depend,” said Jina Ragland, advocacy director for AARP Nebraska. “The practical reality is that many workers are struggling to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to take unpaid leave.”
Research shows that intensive caregiving is often associated with early retirement, giving up work entirely, reducing work hours or taking a less demanding job. As a result, Ragland said, many caregivers must use their retirement savings to support their everyday needs and to help pay caregiving expenses.
On average, income and benefit losses borne by family caregivers age 50 and older in the U.S. add up to a staggering $304,000 over a caregiver’s lifetime.
“Family caregivers should not have to choose between taking care of mom and dad, losing a paycheck, or even risk losing their job,” Ragland said. “They lose salary, personal retirement savings, future Social Security and retirement benefits, career opportunities and suffer from the financial strain of lower income later in life.”
Nearly 240,000 Nebraskans provide 199 million hours of unpaid care to loved ones valued at $2.9 billion annually and growing. The vast majority have been in the workforce at some point during their caregiving experience, with about half of employed caregivers in the U.S. older workers over the age of 50.
Ragland reminded lawmakers that these family caregivers are the backbone of Nebraska’s long-term care and home- and community-based support system. They help make it possible for older adults and people with disabilities to remain at home and stay out of long-term care facilities.
“Most of us are, have been or will be a family caregiver or will ourselves need the help of a loved one to live independently in our lifetime,” she said. “LB 57 recognizes this reality with a paid leave option for Nebraskans needing time away from work to attend to their urgent caregiving responsibilities.”
This story is provided by AARP Nebraska. Visit the AARP Nebraska page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
Thursday, Mar 23, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Friday, Mar 24, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Monday, Mar 27, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.
JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR