An intriguing idea to finally bring paid parental leave to all working moms and dads in United States has come out of Washington, D.C., just not from the government.
An opinion piece in the Jan. 25, 2018, issue of The Wall Street Journal floats the idea of a parent’s future Social Security benefits being used to fund time off to care for a new child. If a parent uses any of his or her benefits for leave, the parent would be delayed in receiving Social Security payments upon retirement.
The opinion piece’s authors write that the delay in payments received later in life would be shorter than the amount of time the parent took off in most cases. This is because federal retirement program follows a progressive benefit formula: younger workers, who would typically be taking the paid paternity leave, would receive smaller payouts because of lower salaries common for that age versus inflation-adjusted payouts for workers in their 60s who are most likely making significantly more money.
“We think the federal government could provide Social Security parental-leave benefits without endangering either Social Security’s already precarious finances or the income security of future retirees,” write the authors, D.C. lawyer Kristin A. Shapiro and Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank and a former official in the Social Security Administration.
The United States is the only first-world nation not to mandate paid parental leave through a national law. Only four U.S. states have such laws with New York putting one into effect just this year.
It’s definitely an interesting idea. Given the regular alarms being raised about the federal retirement program running out of money in people’s lifetimes or the program being cut by politicians, we don’t know whether this idea would fly.