Jana Panarites was about to make a midlife career shift in 2010 when her father died. At age 50, she had completed a master’s degree in cultural diplomacy at the University of Southern California and was looking for a position in the nonprofit sector. That plan ground to a halt when she moved back to Maryland, where she grew up, to take care of her mother.
“Like a lot of caregivers, I had no idea what I was getting into,” she said. “I wound up spending so much time taking care of her, there was no time to take care of myself, let alone produce an income.”
Ms. Panarites has no regrets about the three years she spent caring for her mother, who now lives in an assisted-living facility in Florida. On the contrary, she said, “it’s one of the most important things I’ve ever done.”
But the detour damaged not just her career prospects but her future retirement security as well. Her annual Social Security income — projected at $18,500 if she files for benefits when she reaches full retirement age in 2026 — will be at least 20 percent less than she could have expected had she not left the work force, according to a rough estimate from the Social Security Administration.
– The New York Times