Press Releases


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Washington, February 10, 2016 | Erin Moffet (202-225-3026) | comments

Today, U.S. Representative Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18) introduced the Social Security Parent Penalty Repeal Act to strengthen families, reduce the retirement security gender gap, and solidify our promise to seniors. Currently, a parent who leaves the workforce to care for a child faces lower Social Security benefits as a result, which disproportionately impacts women and is a key factor in the Social Security gender gap. With the rising costs of child care unaffordable for many working families, parents who leave the workforce to care for their children should not be penalized with lower Social Security benefits upon retirement. This bill would eliminate this "parent penalty" by reducing the total number of years in the benefit calculation for parents who are not working while caring for a child. This bill has the support of Social Security Works, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans, National Organization for Women, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, OWL – the Voice of Women 40+,  Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and Latinos for a Secure Retirement.

"Equal pay for equal work and paid family leave are efforts I strongly support to close the wage gap and address workplace fairness issues that disproportionately impact women.  But too often, the retirement security gender gap is overlooked," said Murphy.  "The facts are clear. More women than men rely on Social Security as their sole source of income. More women than men depend on Social Security to keep from falling into poverty.  And more women than men see smaller benefits after a lifetime of hard work due to unequal pay for equal work.  To penalize a parent forced to leave the workforce to care for their child only hurts families, the middle class, and our seniors. My bill will help right this wrong, so parents don't have to choose between caring for a child and their retirement security."

Committed to protecting Social Security and the millions of Americans who rely on these earned benefits, Murphy recently joined with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to introduce the SAVE Benefits Act to help seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities make ends meet through a one-time emergency increase in benefits.  Additionally, this week Murphy put forward an amendment to H.R. 3442 expressing the sense of Congress that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and should be protected.

"When Republican leadership would not even allow a simple vote on my straightforward amendment to protect our promise to seniors, it is more important than ever that we double down on our efforts to strengthen Social Security for generations to come,” Murphy added. "I am proud that my Social Security Parent Penalty Repeal Act not only will address the parent penalty, but it does so in a responsible way that will extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund."

“On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I want to thank Representative Patrick Murphy for his leadership in developing an innovative solution to the loss of Social Security benefits that many Americans experience when they leave the workforce to care for their newborns.  While parents may not be thinking about Social Security at the time, the simple fact is that exiting the workforce, even for a short period of time, has the potential to reduce the benefits they will receive in retirement," said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  "Representative Murphy’s bill, the ‘Social Security Parent Penalty Repeal Act,’ proposes an important first step in resolving this problem, and we applaud him for doing so.”

"In response to our nation's looming retirement income crisis, a growing number of policymakers are recognizing that we should be expanding, not cutting, Social Security," said Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works. "We applaud Rep. Patrick Murphy for his legislation, which improves the Social Security benefits of workers who take time out of the workforce for the important job of childcare."

Currently, the Social Security Administration calculates monthly benefit payments using the income from a worker’s 35 highest years.  Years with no income, such as when a parent cares for an infant, are averaged in as a 0, which can result in a monthly benefit cut of up to three percent for each year a parent is not working.  The Social Security Parent Penalty Repeal Act repeals this penalty by simply not counting those years, up to five years total, for parents leaving the workforce to care for a young child. This bill is fully paid for by gradually lifting the cap, which limits contributions into the Social Security Trust Fund to the first $118,500 of income, and would also add years of solvency to the program – addressing the shortfall by 1/3 according to its Chief Actuary report


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