GAO Warns That Caregivers Face Special Challenges in Retirement Readiness

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that focuses on difficulties many caregivers face in achieving a financially secure retirement. The GAO notes that, on average, about 10 percent of the U.S. population was engaged in providing care services to a family member or someone outside of their family during the 2011 to 2017 survey period.

Of the 49,000-plus providing such care services, 51 percent were doing so for an elderly parent and 7 percent were caring for a spouse. About one quarter each of the total were providing care services for another family member or for a nonrelative (some provided care to more than one recipient).

The following were among the possible consequences of being a caregiver.

  • More interference with work and career, and, therefore, lower income
  • Smaller retirement accumulations
  • Less Social Security benefits because of employment interruptions

Policymakers’ suggestions to reduce such adverse consequences included the following.

  • Consider providing an enhanced Social Security benefit to those whose income and future retirement security may be compromised by their service as caregivers.
  • Better educate potential caregivers of the financial—and, ultimately, security—impacts of reducing their employment or leaving the workforce to provide such care.

The GAO released both a Fast Facts summary and highlights of its findings.