6 posts categorized "Finances"

September 18, 2014

HIV, Aging and LGBT people: A Metamorphosis

HivHead

On April 3, 2008, my longtime friend Don (last name withheld) tested positive for HIV, the same day as his mother’s 56th birthday. He remembers the day vividly. “I had given blood to my doctor and a couple weeks later, I still hadn’t received a call. I called my doctor’s office and they said, ‘There’s an anomaly with your blood.’ I immediately freaked out and thought, ‘God, this is it.'” Don took the last appointment of the day and a few hours later received his diagnosis, along with a few referrals. He went home “to pull myself together, call my mom and wish her a happy birthday.” He wouldn’t share his HIV status with his mother for several years.

“It stopped me dead in my tracks,” he says of that day. “And even though having an HIV diagnosis isn’t the same as it was 15 or 20 years ago, I immediately saw the end. I had dreams where I would see this road that said: ‘dead end.'”

At 42, Don represents a notable demographic segment of the U.S. population living with HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),the highest rates of HIV prevalence, by age group, are among people ages 45-49 and ages 40-45—20% and 16%, respectively. As these people in their 40s and their older peers age, spurred in large part by medical advances, people age 50 and older will make up roughly 70 percent of Americans with HIV by the year 2020.

Yet aging with HIV can be especially difficult. Older adults with HIV report high levels of isolation, yet few community spaces embrace their full identities as older people, people with HIV and, in most cases, given the epidemic’s prevalence, LGBT and people of color. Additionally, medical research has found multiple health concerns related to aging with HIV—and the psychological dimensions of living with HIV, or a new diagnosis, can spur its own storms. Without a large-scale, dedicated response, the “younger” end of this older adult spectrum, including Don, will join their older peers over the next decade in entering an aging system unprepared to meet their unique needs, despite their overwhelming numbers.

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December 12, 2013

Social Security Update: Check out same-sex couples benefits!

2212726UPDATE: On December 16, 2013, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, released a new statement on payments to same-sex married couples. Read it now.

As 2013 draws to a close, we want to highlight some important changes in Social Security that affects all older adults—including the LGBT community! Check out the following and stay informed. For a large list of Social Security resources and articles geared to LGBT older adults, visit the resource page at the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

News from the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  • The SSA announced on October 30, 2013 that for people who already receive a monthly Social Security benefit, the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 1.5% in 2014.  The 1.5%cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2013.
  • Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. In the coming weeks and months, SSA will work with the Department of Justice to develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. If you know someone who you believe may be eligible for Social Security benefits, we encourage you to tell them to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. The SSA will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.  Information also will be posted on a web page dedicated to issues relevant to same-sex couples.  
  • The SSA is encouraging people to apply for a My Social Security account.  For people who already receive a monthly Social Security and/or SSI cash benefit, they may use their account to get proof of their monthly income without having to call or visit a local Social Security office!  They’ll also be able to change their address and direct deposit online!  If you need help, the SSA has created two fact sheets on creating an account and verifying benefits.

Interested in learning more? The official website of the Social Security Administration has a plethora of information about various programs and benefits with easy to follow instructions and guides.

 

June 24, 2013

LGBT Older Adults & Identity Theft

Steve

For a number of reasons, older adults are more vulnerable to identity theft than the general population. They are particularly vulnerable to what are termed “community scammers.”  These individuals may share a common language, background or heritage; they might pose as helpful; but they may turn these traditional indicators of trust on their head to take advantage of their elders. Here at SAGE, we deal with the outcome of people who are taken advantage of by people who recognize their fear, social isolation and vulnerability. LGBT older adults in particular are extremely vulnerable to identity theft and we’re sharing stories to make people aware of this situation. If you, or someone you care about, has suffered from fraud, tell us your story at SAGE Story.

Mike*, a SAGE client, is a 70-year-old gay male who is single, suffers from depression and generally likes to stay in or near his home in NYC. He used to eat regularly at a diner and started to become friendly with Steve*, an assistant manager there. Their friendship developed and Steve visited Mike’s apartment on several occasions.  Steve asked Mike to go shopping with him in order to establish his credit rating and asked Mike to use his credit card—this may not make sense, but that was the premise he cooked up for his scam. Steve bought some clothes, returned them for a credit on Mike’s credit card and gave Mike an IOU.

About a month later Mike gets word from several credit card companies and banks that accounts have been opened in his name and charges incurred of about $15,000+.  Mike came to SAGE for help and we reported the matter to the police—who responded promptly and effectively.

Eventually, Steve was found out because he used Mike’s name on the credit card, but his own address. This was not the first fraud Steve had committed. In fact, he was scheduled to be arraigned a few weeks ago and Mike is currently distraught, but receiving help. 

Another example is of an immobile client who lived in a second floor walk-up—he couldn’t get out of bed and he couldn’t go to store. This man had lost his partner, who had cared for him, but didn’t want to leave their apartment and the memories they shared and more importantly, he was afraid of how he’d be received in a long-term care setting. Instead, he paid people in his building to do errands for him, but not in cash. He gave people his debit card and PIN and they took advantage of his situation. His fear of moving and seeking the proper assistance he needed made his bad situation even worse. Ultimately, SAGE got involved and coordinated formal in-home services and a SAGE Friendly Visitor. In short, the fact that the man was quasi-out led to his fear of moving into an unwelcoming environment, and made him vulnerable to fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission, which recently held a day-long seminar and Senior Identity Theft, provides numerous resources to combat financial scams, identity theft, and other fraudulent scheme –providing minute-long audio tips, scam alerts, and tools for victims of identity theft and other scams.  In addition, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau provides numerous tips and resources to help older adults protect themselves from financial abuse, including information on how to prevent people from taking your savings or your home, understanding your financial options when your spouse dies, and where you can turn for information.

*The names in this post have been changed.

June 7, 2013

Why Paid Leave Is an LGBT Aging Issue

Today's post is from Jared Make, Staff Attorney at A Better Balance, an organization that promotes equality and expands choices for men and women at all income levels so they may care for their families without sacrificing their economic security. You can contact Jared at jmake@abetterbalance.org.

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When illness strikes, many American workers learn that their employers provide little or no paid leave. LGBT workers often face an additional obstacle when loved ones are sick, because their employers may not recognize their families. The widespread lack of LGBT-inclusive paid leave has significant consequences for workers, their loved ones, and the health of our communities. Although it may not be apparent at first glance, paid leave laws are especially critical to the health and economic security of LGBT elders—whether or not they’re in the labor force.

A significant percentage of American workers, including a growing number of LGBT elders, receive no paid leave for personal or family health issues. Almost 90% of private sector workers receive no paid family leave to care for a seriously ill loved one, and nearly 40% of private sector workers lack even a single paid sick day. Many of these workers are LGBT older adults. The population of LGBT elders in the United States is growing at a substantial rate, and LGBT Americans are staying in the labor force for longer periods of time. In a 2009 survey of LGBT Americans between the ages of 45 and 64, almost half of all respondents said they did not expect to retire until after the age of 70.

If LGBT elders in the labor force cannot take time off to receive medical care or recover from illness, their health and well-being are jeopardized. As highlighted by SAGE, LGBT elders face striking health disparities: LGBT older adults have an increased risk for certain cancers, a greater likelihood of delaying medical care, and higher rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions, including HIV/AIDS. Given these health disparities, it is crucial that LGBT elders are able to take off from work to receive medical attention or care for a sick loved one.

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June 5, 2013

LGBT Elders: Poverty's Challenges Worsen With Age

This is a guest post by Robert Espinoza, SAGE's Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications. In today's post, Robert writes about how poverty uniquely affects LGBT older adults and the release of a new report highlighting these facts from The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.  The report can be downloaded here.

This post was originally featured on the Huffington Post.

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SAGE Constituent George Stewart at The White House

At 81, George Stewart has been a longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people in New York City. He's a former Army clerk and U.S. Air Force court reporter, and last summer he was selected by the White House as one of sixChampions of Change nationwide for LGBT Pride Month. Yet behind his active civic life and national profile lies another reality: George Stewart is low income, and as with millions of older people, he relies on federal assistance to supplement his income and on local services for community support. For many low-income LGBT older people, public assistance and support networks interlock as lifelines—ameliorating poverty, reducing isolation and helping to manage the slew of challenges that come with getting older. Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of poverty among elders in this country, including LGBT elders, these realities are rarely brought to light.

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February 19, 2013

Don’t Just Look for a Job: Three Ways to Pursue Your Passions

We are all either looking for a job or know someone who is.  Our nation’s “poor economy” has made headlines daily, serving as a depressing reminder for those who are out of work or want to leave a job that’s just not a good fit.

For those of us left empty handed after months of searching, rewriting resumes and networking with everyone we begin to think:

“I need a job. I’ll take anything!”

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