A bill called the New Jersey Caregivers Assistance Act recently passed through the New Jersey state assembly’s Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee. It still needs to pass through the state assembly and senate before it can be presented to the Governor to be signed into law.

The bill seeks to provide tax breaks for caregivers who live with senior family members. Qualified caregivers would receive a state tax credit up to $675 towards their health care costs.

The AARP supports the bill, citing estimates that there are 1.75 million unpaid caregivers in New Jersey providing more than 1 billion hours of care annually. They claim that the value of the hours of support provided by family caregivers would be about $13 billion a year.

Caregiving is not easy work, and it doesn’t pay the bills. According to a Gallup survey more than one in six Americans working full or part time assist in caring for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend. A joint report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP suggests that half of all caregivers work full time, and 70% of those working report work-related difficulty with their caregiver roles. Half of those had to work a second job to help cover caregiving costs.

If providing constant care isn’t enough, caregivers spend about 13 hours per month researching care-related issues, coordinating doctor visits, or managing their loved one’s financial affairs.

Most people don’t volunteer for these jobs, but do them out of love and obligation for those in their care. It’s about time the state recognizes the heroic efforts of these unsung individuals, and offers them some form of compensation for their efforts. Contact your state legislators if you also believe these efforts deserve to be recognized by the passage of the New Jersey Caregivers Assistance Act.

There are many legal issues surrounding the care of seniors. Understanding and navigating concerns such as power of attorney, health care proxies, wills, living wills, and living trusts can be a stressful, time-consuming process that adds to the work of the caregiver.

If you or someone you know needs expert help dealing with any of these concerns, call our office at (856) 227-7888, or contact us at hinklelaw@lyndahinkle.com  to schedule a free consultation. We are always happy to help, especially those who help others.