AARP Massachusetts 2019 legislative priorities

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By Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts

Mike Festa

As we enter a new legislative session, AARP Massachusetts is hard at work fighting for our 800,000 members in the Bay State. This session, AARP has submitted new bills to the Legislature to help workers to save for retirement and to support family caregivers through a tax credit.

House Docket #1405/Senate Docket #786 – An Act to Establish the Family Caregiving Tax Credit  

Sponsored by Representative David Rogers (D-24th Middlesex) and Senator Jason Lewis (D-5th Middlesex)

This bill, which made it to the end of the legislative process last year without a vote, would establish a tax credit that reimburses caregivers for a portion of what they spend to care for a loved one at home.

A recent study by the AARP Public Policy Institute shows that the average family caregiver spends almost $7,000 a year out-of-pocket to help care for their loved ones, which amounts to, on average, 20 percent of their total income.  An Act to Establish the Family Caregiver Tax Credit would establish a tax credit, capped at $1,500 per year, which reimburses family members for a portion of qualified expenses related to caring for adult family members who need assistance with activities of daily living.

Massachusetts family caregivers provided 786 million hours of unpaid care, valued at about $11.6 billion, in 2015. Most people who receive assistance at home rely exclusively on unpaid family caregivers for help. Some 69 percent of Massachusetts adults report feeling stressed while trying to balance a job and their caregiving responsibilities. More than half (55 percent) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.

House Docket #2958/Senate Docket #1902 – An Act to Establish the Massachusetts Secure Choice Retirement Program and Expand the Massachusetts CORE Plan to All Employers 

Sponsored by Representative Tram Nguyen (D-18th Essex) and Senator Pat Jehlen (D-2nd Middlesex)

 Nearly half of workers in Massachusetts have no access to a retirement savings plan through their employers. A secure retirement is out of reach for over one million Massachusetts residents, especially those who work for themselves or small businesses. While Social Security is a critical piece of the puzzle, it is not enough to depend on. Many future retirees will not be able to handle the rising cost of basic needs and health care.

An Act to Establish the Massachusetts Secure Choice Retirement Program and Expand the Massachusetts CORE Plan to All Employers, (HD. 2958/SD.1902)  would expand the existing “Connecting Organizations to Retirement” (CORE) plan so that all employers could participate.  The act would also create the Massachusetts Secure Choice Retirement Program. Secure Choice makes it easier for businesses to offer employees a way to save for retirement out of their regular paycheck, and it is an easy, stress-free way to grow retirement savings so you can take control of your future.

Each of these bills will improve the lives of older residents of Massachusetts, whether by helping workers save for retirement, or by supporting the commonwealth’s 844,000 family caregivers.

We could use your help in advancing this legislation.  If you would like to advocate for the passage of these bills, please call your elected representatives at the State House at 617-722-2000 and ask them for their support. If you would like to become a volunteer advocate for AARP Massachusetts, please contact Austin Hodge at [email protected].