Gina Owens is a 56 year-old disabled grandmother who lives in Seattle. After her daughter Tifanny died of pulmonary hypertension in 2007, Gina took over the care of her three grandchildren. She now raises 15 year-old Marcelas, 12 year-old Monique and 10 year-old Myanna by herself in a small apartment in Central Seattle.
Gina receives Social Security disability because of a car accident in 2000 that caused a spinal injury. She uses a walker now and her disability prevents her from being able to work full-time. She applied for Social Security Disability Insurance in 2001 and eventually began receiving benefits in 2003.
At the time of her daughter’s death, Gina was working part-time as a cashier at Walgreens but had to quit her job in order to take over the weighty caregiving responsibilities of the three kids, at that time aged 7, 5 and 3.
“We basically survive on the $987 that I get from Social Security Disability Insurance along with $478 for the kids through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. It’s less than $1500 a month,” says Gina. “That’s all, and it’s not enough. Some months I have to make tough decisions about buying food, medications, and other necessities.”
“There needs to be a caregiver credit in Social Security. So many people would benefit, including the thousands of grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles and other relatives, who have taken on raising loved ones who they never thought they would have to care for.“