The Corner

Politics & Policy

Rubio Pushes Forward on Social Security–Based Parental Leave

The bill is called the Economic Security for New Parents Act; a similar measure is due in the House next month. Essentially, the legislation would allow new parents to take leave from their jobs, and pay them out of their future Social Security benefits. Parents would pay the system back by delaying retirement later on.

According to the one-pager put together by Rubio’s office, the benefit formula is generous enough to allow most parents below the median family income (roughly $70,000) to take two months of leave at more than 70 percent of their pay; some parents with lower incomes would be able to finance leave for more than three months. Spouses would be able to share their benefits, and stay-at-home parents with a sufficient work history (twelve “quarters of coverage” — i.e., three years) could also use it.

As I’ve said before, the core of this idea is brilliant. It addresses the demand for paid leave by making our current entitlement system more flexible, rather than by making it bigger.

The key, of course, is to make sure that the accounting is done correctly and Social Security is actually made whole in the end — a task that the bill punts over to Social Security’s chief actuary, who would determine the correct “benefit ratio” each year. Rubio’s office expects that those receiving the benefit would have to delay retirement about three to six months. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Congressional Budget Office and others think about this setup.

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