Paid parental leave for new parents has gained widespread support in recent years. One major impediment to providing paid parental leave in the United States has been both direct and indirect costs associated with the policy. However, the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) recently articulated an innovative approach to providing paid parental leave while also not accruing additional costs.

“States and localities are increasingly creating paid leave ordinances and policy leaders have been calling for a national program to ensure that all workers have access to paid leave benefits,” said Carrie Lukas, president of IWF. “Independent Women's Forum has been arguing for more than a decade that a one-size-fits-all federal program to provide paid leave could backfire on workers, creating new costs and making our work force less flexible.”

IWF has proposed that the federal government allow new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits after the birth of their child in exchange for an associated deferral of their Social Security retirement benefits in a recent paper, called “Policy Focus: A Budget-Neutral Approach to Parental Leave.” The length of the deferral period would be calculated to be long enough to offset the cost of providing Social Security parental benefits. Preliminary estimates find that 12 weeks of parental benefits would need a deferral of Social Security retirement benefits by only six weeks, although further study is needed.

“IWF is proud to have just published the first paper outlining an innovative approach to giving working greater access to paid leave benefits without growing government or stifling innovation,” Lukas continued. “Unlike paid leave proposals before it, the Social Security Parental Benefits solution would expand access to paid parental leave to all workers in the United States without raising taxes, increasing the deficit, or hurting workers’ economic opportunities.”

IWF’s paper and its policy proposal have gotten coverage in The Wall Street Journal last week.

“Importantly this proposal could enable new parents who want and need paid leave to receive up to 12 weeks of benefits through the Social Security program in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits to make up for those costs,” Lukas continued. “This wouldn’t impact workers who like their current compensation arrangement and their employers’ benefit programs, but could be a lifeline for those who really need it.”

Read “Policy Focus: A Budget-Neutral Approach to Parental Leave”