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Advocates push for bill to financially help caregivers

Kaci Jones
Updated: September 11, 2019 06:06 AM
Created: September 10, 2019 11:43 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — At least four million people across New York state care for loved ones, and those caregivers spend billions of unpaid hours every year helping family members. A bill moving through the State Senate and Assembly hopes to offer financial help for those families. 

Data shows family caregivers spend about $7,000 out-of-pocket for expenses related to caring for loved ones annually. There is bipartisan support for a tax credit that could help alleviate some of the burden. 

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Brian Norton spent half a decade caring for his wife before she died from Alzheimer’s. Now, Norton sits on the board for the Alzheimer's Association of Rochester and Finger Lakes Region.

"The financial toll is definitely real, at the time it was approximately $25 an hour for a caregiver," Norton said. "We had very generous people that assisted us but also used our savings."

Family members typically are not paid for their service. State data shows caregivers spend billions of unpaid hours caring for aging loved ones or people with disabilities. That becomes a physical, emotional and financial burden.

That's where the Family Caregiver Tax Credit comes in. If passed, caregivers with one income less than $75,000 or a two person income less than $150,000 will get $3500 tax credit for eligible expenses.

Democrat Harry Bronson is sponsoring the Assembly version of the bill.

"If they spend their money to help their loved ones who we want to be able to keep them in their homes," Bronson said. "This bill would allow them to take a tax credit when they file income tax this year."

On the phone, Republican Steve Hawley told News10NBC he plans to cosponsor the bill. 

Lois Williams Norman cares for her mother in her 90s, she said the credit is a step in the right direction.

"Thirty-five hundred dollars is something if that's annual, but there are a lot of places where the cost per month is more than 3,500 dollars," Williams Norman said. "While it is helpful it's definitely not a lot."

Three dozen organizations including Lifespan of Greater Rochester and the Alzheimer's Association cosigned a letter urging the governor to put the caregiver credit in next state budget proposal.

"The impact is real, the need is real for these families that are trying to navigate," Norton said.

News10NBC reached out to Gov. Cuomo's office for a statement about this but have not yet heard back. There's no word on when the bill will be brought to the floor for a vote in either part of the New York State Legislature. 


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