14 posts categorized "Finances"

April 28, 2016

Budgeting for Housing, Healthcare and Marriage Shouldn’t Be Scary

By Vera Lukacs

LGBT older adults have unique financial concerns. Not only are they faced with economic uncertainty, but they face discrimination in housing and healthcare, and the prospect of marriage is still new for many. How can LGBT older adults budget better for basic necessities? This question is important, considering that over 25 million older adults (60+) are living in poverty. Contrary to popular belief, planning and budgeting can be a positive experience! It can be tough to think about, but it’s worth doing when you have the chance to prepare and get a step ahead. Not sure where to start? Check out this LGBT Financial Planning Guide.

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Budgeting for healthcare in later years is incredibly important. LGBT older adults have a vast amount of needs that their heterosexual counterparts don’t even think about. But first, a significant factor in this process is LGBT elders need to feel comfortable sharing who they are with their healthcare providers. For transgender people seeking hormone treatments and surgeries or those with HIV, finding a provider can be a scary process. GLMA has a provider directory to help people find LGBT-competent healthcare providers.

LGBT older adults often struggle to find affordable and safe housing. Many don’t have the economic security to invest in long term care facilities, and many are denied housing simply for being who they are. Nearly half of older same-sex couples experienced at least one form of differential treatment when inquiring about housing in a long-term care facility. SAGE launched the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative to address these issues.

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What does marriage equality mean for LGBT couples? See our new toolkit, Talk Before You Walk: Considerations for LGBT Older Couples Before Getting Married. Getting married is about more than bringing two individuals together. Marriage provides a number of benefits, rights, and protections. With these rights comes the sharing of financial liabilities. To ensure a secured household, talk with your partner before you walk!

Appointing a power of attorney can come in handy in an emergency. In the event that an LGBT older adult is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make sound decisions, a power of attorney can allow a trusted loved one to step in and decide on their behalf. For more information on planning your last wishes, see our blog Financial Literacy: Tips and Tricks for LGBT Elders!

Vera Lukacs is a digital media assistant at SAGE. April is Financial Literacy Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Follow the SAGE blog this month for more!

April 22, 2016

Talk Before You Walk: Considerations for Older Couples Before Getting Married

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 3.44.54 PMWhen the U.S. Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, the freedom to marry became the law of the land. This victory forever changed financial planning and legal relationships for LGBT families.

Deciding to wed is an important step.What’s different and what remains unchanged for LGBT couples following the landmark Obergefell ruling? SAGE's new toolkit, Talk Before You Walk: Considerations for Older Couples Before Getting Married, shows how same-sex couples, especially older same-sex couples, can take steps to ensure that they are fully aware of the legal impact marriage has on a variety of family planning situations. View and download the toolkit today.

This SAGE toolkit is made possible through generous support from MetLife Foundation and Citi. Follow the conversation on Twitter with #SAGEFinance and #TalkB4UWalk.

April 19, 2016

A New LGBTQ Victory Is a Victory for All of Us: The Social Security Administration Does the Right Thing

The following excerpt is from an article that originally appeared on The Huffington Post blog on April 16, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Nancy Altman

Does the government work for us or against us? As the result of a decision by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), the government is working better for all of us today. For convincing SSA to do the right thing, we should thank Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Representative Mark Takano (D-CA), and 119 of their colleagues. We are also indebted, for this victory, to two effective, dedicated nonprofits, Justice in Aging and the GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), as well as Foley Hoag, LLP, the law firm that assisted them.

SSA is responsible for two crucially important programs. It administers Social Security, which provides a floor of economic protection in the form of insurance to working families whose wages are lost as the result of death, disability or old age. It also administers a companion program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), which provides means-tested benefits to extremely low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

These programs exemplify the good that can be done when all of us work together through our government to improve all of our lives. But, despite its positive mission, SSA has been engaging in a destructive practice that represents government not working for us, but against us. SSA has been sending, to hundreds of thousands of Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients, bills for what it concludes are overpayments.

These are not cases of fraud (which are vanishingly rare) but, frequently, cases where it was the government itself that made the error. The beneficiaries and recipients did nothing wrong. They reported all information correctly, but the government did not act on the information in a timely way or created the error in some other way. To add insult to injury, our government outrageously calls those receiving these notices “debtors,” though they have done nothing wrong, and, indeed, may be scrupulous about paying their bills on time.

The federal government has enormous power. When it chooses to go after someone, it is generally an intimidating experience even when the person in its crosshairs is an innocent, law abiding citizen. If this powerful entity is seeking large sums of money that you don’t have, it can be a disruptive and upsetting experience. Moreover, in the case of Social Security and SSI overpayments, the government is going after people who are generally our most vulnerable fellow Americans. Over the last year, this intimidating power got turned on the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community, as a result of the 2013 landmark Supreme Court decision, US v. Windsor.

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Image: Thea Spyer and Edith Windsor, via ACLU

The Windsor case struck down the offensively-named Defense of Marriage Act. As a result of the Supreme Court decision, same-sex couples who were legally married under state law finally had their marriages recognized by the federal government. For couples in which one or both partners received SSI, this important victory was followed by a distressing letter from the government. Under SSI’s stringent and complicated rules, married recipients receive lower benefits than those who are unmarried. Consequently, a year after that landmark case, SSA began reviewing its SSI rolls to determine whether the benefits it was paying some of its recipients, now that same-sex marriages were recognized as marriages, were now inaccurate in amount.

When SSA found that benefits were now too high, it did not just change the benefit level going forward. It sought repayment of the difference between the two amounts for every benefit paid all the way back to July 1, 2013, the month following the Windsor decision. Here was the government coming after people for large sums of money that they didn’t have.

Continue reading on The Huffington Post blog.

April 14, 2016

Financial Decision Making Tips for Elders

This post originally appeared on National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) on April 6th, 2016. Read the original post here

By Christine Herman

Making good financial decisions isn’t easy. Despite the fact that we gain knowledge over the course of our lives, as Elders it actually becomes more difficult to make sound financial choices. Surprisingly, as part of the aging process, our decision-making ability starts to decline in our 50s. Cognitive impairment and conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can accelerate the decline of decision-making ability.

But it’s not just our ability to understand financial situations that makes it difficult. The world is increasingly complex, with many different costs and expenses to keep track of each month. It is also more complicated, as financial services have become more and more difficult to understand – and some of them are downright dangerous.

Tight budgets and thin paychecks have caused many of us – Elders and our children alike – to find it hard to make ends meet. Loans which didn’t exist 50 years ago – payday loans, car title loans, tax refund loans, and other types of loans, have crept into our communities. These loans are what are called “predatory loans” because the companies that make them only care about their own profits – often at the expense of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). Unfortunately, research suggests that in some parts of Indian Country, as many as 50% of all AI/AN have used predatory loans.

Though many nations have tried to put a stop to these loans, they’re often still legal outside of tribal jurisdiction and just a short drive from our communities. The results are often tragic – people spend thousands upon thousands of dollars struggling to get out of debt, often because of a loan that was only a few hundred dollars. Some AI/AN have gone without food, and others have lost their cars or even their homes as a result of these predators and their loans.

While finances can be complicated, creating a basic budget to understand where one’s money is going every month – and how much is coming in – is crucial for our wellbeing. It is also important to learn how to identify and avoid bad loans and financial services that are designed to hurt us and make others rich. So too is knowing what services and benefits are available to help make ends meet – and there are some good resources available to help make financial decisions a little easier.

Making decisions about money can be challenging. So much so, that we may put off making decisions until another day. But the financial decisions you make (or don’t make) through the course of your life can have far-reaching effects as you age. For Elders on a tight budget, the financial decisions you make today are very important and can have a dramatic impact on your current standard of living, as well as what you may be able to leave your children or heirs in the future.

Financial decision-making may not get easier with age

Evidence suggests that even though we gain experience making financial decisions as we age, unfortunately our cognitive ability – the ability to think a problem through – decreases after age 53.  (1) This means that making good decisions when it comes to managing money, investments, and debts gets more difficult for Elders as they age.

Elders with “mild cognitive impairment” – those who have some difficulty with memory – will experience much more difficulty making good financial decisions. This is a part of the aging process, as the ability to easily and quickly learn new information begins to decrease in ones 60’s, and more rapidly decreases in ones 70’s. Elders with diagnosed dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will experience a more rapid decline in their ability to make financial decisions.(2) In 2010, American Elders lost $2.9 billion dollars due to financial abuse such as fraud and scams.  (1)

Password nicoa Threats to Financial Safety

There are a growing number of threats to financial safety. The age of the Internet has brought new threats, with hackers – computer criminals – and “viruses” – bad computer programs – that are able to steal financial information by using fraudulent emails or websites. In addition, high interest loans or financial services that take advantage of the need for quick cash can be very expensive and can wreck your financial future.

Loan services are a major problem around AI/AN communities. While many nations in Indian Country have passed laws to limit or outlaw services such as payday loans, title loans, or tax refund loans, these services do still legally operate outside of tribal lands in many states. The companies providing these types of loans are often referred to as “predatory lenders” because the loans come with very high interest rates – the price paid for the money borrowed – and other fees that can make the loan difficult or impossible to repay.  (3)

In many communities, there may be little or no access to banking services and even those living near a bank may find it difficult to get a personal loan. Because of disparities in income and little or no access to banks and credit, AI/AN communities are by far the largest population using predatory loans. Where only about 6% of the general population in the United States has utilized these types of loans, research has shown that nearly half of American Indians on New Mexico and South Dakota reservations have used them before.  (3)

For example, a title loan – a predatory loan against the ownership of a car – has an interest rate of 300% and only pays a loan amount of 26% of the vehicle’s value on average.   The average title loan recipient will receive a loan of $951 but will have to pay $2,142 in interest in addition to the loan amount. The total to repay the loan, on average, is $3093.  (4)

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In other words, the average total price for every $1.00 borrowed is $2.26, and the repayment for every dollar borrowed is $3.26. Those who cannot repay the loan will lose their vehicle, may be charged fees and may still be required to repay part of or the entire loan.

While payday, installment, or tax refund loans may not carry the risk of the loss of a vehicle, they too carry very high interest rates and fees that make repayment extremely expensive. All such predatory loans are designed to help the company that issues the loan make a hefty profit, regardless of the consequences to the borrower. Especially for Elders on a “fixed income” of Social Security and/or retirement benefits, such loans can be devastating whether or not they result in the loss of property.

Half of all states have laws to outlaw predatory lending, but unfortunately predatory loans may still exist. Some companies within Indian Country operate on nations where predatory lending is still not illegal, and may offer large loans with repayment over many years. These loans have the same characteristics of the smaller predatory loans, and may cost eight times as much as the loan amount to repay.  (5) Extreme caution should be used when looking for a loan whether or not the source of the loan is inside or outside Indian Country.

Other threats to your financial security may include scam artists or other fraudulent activities. Watch out for and avoid unsolicited mail, email or messages demanding that you verify bank account or other personal information. Never open email from unfamiliar senders. Always do business with companies and individuals that you are familiar with to avoid the possibility of being scammed. If it is “too good to be true,” it probably is!  (1)

Making Good Financial Decisions

Financial decisions are often complicated and can be confusing. However, a number of different resources are available to help make understanding and dealing with financial issues easier. The resources below can help you create a better financial plan.

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Online calculators

The online calculator found on the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website (https://secure.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator.html), and can help determine how much money you need to retire based on a wide variety of financial factors.

A Retirement Estimator, tool found on the Social Security Administration website (https://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire/estimator.html is a resource to help you more accurately plan for retirement by helping determine how much your social security benefit will be.

And finally, the online calculator found on Credit Karma’s website (https://www.creditkarma.com/calculators/debtrepayment) can help you determine how long it will take to pay back a loan or credit card based on the amount borrowed, the interest rate, and either how much you can pay per month or how soon you want to repay the debt.

Create a monthly budget

Especially for Elders on a fixed income, it is critical to have a clear picture of all the monthly expenses and income in the household. Gather all of the monthly bills (known as ‘fixed expenses” – the same every month), social security statements, pension and/or retirement income statements, as well as receipts for things like groceries and fuel (known as ‘variable expenses’ because they can change month to month).

Download the easy NICOA basic budget tool (requires Microsoft Excel) or create a simple document listing the following to get an idea of how much is spent every month and how much income is available to cover expenses:

  • Fixed Expenses: mortgage/rent payment; home owner/renter insurance; health insurance/Medicare; life insurance; car payment; car insurance; phone bill; cable/satellite bill; internet bill; other loans payments,
    • Subtotal (add all fixed expenses): $
  • Variable Expenses: electricity bill; natural gas/propane/heating oil bill; water bill; gasoline or diesel expenses; credit card payments; food and household goods expenses; prescription costs; other purchases (like appliances, clothes, copays, etc):
    • Subtotal (add all variable expenses): $
    • TOTAL EXPENSES (add fixed and variable expenses): $
  • Income: social security benefits; retirement/investment income; pension income; salary from work; other sources of income:
    • TOTAL INCOME (add all income): $
    • NET INCOME (subtract expenses from income): $

If net income is a positive number (like $250), this is the money left over after all monthly bills and expenses are paid. If net income is a negative number (like -$135), the expenses are more than monthly income and cannot be paid without taking on debt (like loans, credit cards, etc.), reducing expenses (like canceling cable or internet service), or attaining more income or financial assistance (like a new job or SNAP benefits).

NestStart saving money – it’s not too late

Start saving money every month. Saving $25 per week, every week for ten years in an account that paid no interest would amount to $13,000! Many credit unions and banks offer free savings accounts which pay interest (pay you money). Other credit unions and some banks offer a free checking account if certain conditions are met, like having a monthly direct deposit (such as a Social Security check or paycheck) put directly into the account.

You can choose to have a certain amount of money automatically moved from checking to savings each month, a secure way to put money away for retirement without even having to think about it. Check with your local credit union or bank for details about different accounts that are available and ask about free savings and checking account services. Starting to save early and saving as much as possible will help ensure a secure financial future.

Never use predatory loans!

Loan companies specializing in predatory loans are there to make money for themselves at the expense of the borrower. Predatory lenders do not care what happens to the borrower, whether it’s paying thousands of dollars in interest, going hungry, or even losing a car or home due to an inability to pay monthly expenses.

NEVER sign without reading the “fine print”

Contracts and agreements to buy products or services, for loans, or for other legal or financial matters are VERY important. The conditions for buying the product or service are found in these documents – often in the “fine print” – specify the terms that are being agreed to and may be legally binding. Even though the documents are usually lengthy and may contain complicated legal language, always read them before signing anything. Make sure that the terms and conditions are clear and understandable.

If the document does not make sense or is too hard to understand, request a copy of the contract and seek the advice of someone who is knowledgeable and qualified to explain it. NEVER sign anything that does not make sense or is too hard to understand without getting help first. It is easy to walk away from a bad deal before any documents are signed, but after a contract is signed, it can be very hard to get out of one. Do not give into the pressure of someone trying to make a deal; it’s always okay to walk away and come back later.

Get Help: Counseling & Benefits

Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) can provide options counseling services and connections to resources that can assist with financial planning. These centers can also help Elders get benefits, such as help to pay for food, electricity and heat, phone services, medical costs, prescriptions, and much more.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living provides an interactive map to help locate an ADRC near you (http://www.adrc-tae.acl.gov/tiki-index.php?page_ref_id=739), as well as a complete directory of ADRCs in the U.S. and U.S. territories.

SOURCES:

  1. Setzfand, Jean C. (2011). Give Your Parents the Gift of Financial Peace of Mind. Retrieved November 2015, from AARP:http://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-10-2011/financial-help-for-elderly-parents.html
  2. Eisenberg, Richard (2013). How Aging Impacts Our Financial Decisions. Retrieved November 2015, from Next Avenue;http://www.nextavenue.org/how-aging-impacts-our-financial-decisions/
  3. Wessler, Seth Freed (2014). Endless Debt: Native Americans Plagued High-Interest Loans. Retrieved November 2015, from NBC News; http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/in-plain-sight/endless-debt-native-americans-plagued-high-interest-loans-n236706
  4. Giusti, Autumn Cafiero (2013). The Consumer Perils of a Car Title Loan. Retrieved November 2015, from Bankrate:http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/consumer-perils-car-title-loan.aspx
  5. Pilnick, Katherine (2013). Regulations Target Western Sky and Native American Predatory Lending. Retrieved November 2015, from Debt. Org: https://www.debt.org/2013/02/25/western-sky-predatory-lending/

 

 

April 7, 2016

Financial Literacy: Tips and Tricks for LGBT Elders

By Vera Lukacs

It’s critical for LGBT older adults to become more financially literate as they age. According to the SAGE report, Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75, nearly half of all LGBT older people fear they will outlive the money they save for retirement, as compared to a quarter of non-LGBT older people; 1 in 2 single LGBT older people believe they will have to work well beyond retirement age, as compared to less than a third of single non-lgbt older people; and more than half of the LGBT older adult population is concerned about not having enough money to survive retirement.

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From Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75


April is Financial Literacy Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Have you planned your estate? How do you find an LGBT-friendly lawyer or financial planner? Here are some tips and tricks for your financial planning this month and long term:  

Find your LGBT-friendly financial planner
Afraid of discrimination? Fear no more. There is an abundance of resources on finding an LGBT-friendly financial planner and/or lawyer. The Wells Fargo guide, Tailored Investment Planning Solutions for Same-Sex Couples and Domestic Partners, will help you find a financial planner with ease. Are you an LGBT-friendly financial planner? Join the Gay Financial Planner list here.

How do you plan your estate? 
Create a will. It can be tough to talk about, but it’s one of the most important steps you should take as an older adult. Did you know that an estimated two-thirds of people die without a will? Check out What Every LGBT Older Adult Needs to Know About Wills from the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Talk to your partner(s), family and friends
Sure, it’s hard to talk finances, but keeping the communication clear between you and your loved ones will make things easier. These Must Read Tax Tips for LGBT Couples explain the difficulties of talking about finances with a partner. “Schedule some time with your significant other to sit down uninterrupted and share a nice bottle of wine. Discuss your financial goals and where you are financially, both as individuals and as a couple. Put this in writing.”

Vera Lukacs is a digital media assistant at SAGE. April is Financial Literacy Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Follow the SAGE blog this month for more!

September 1, 2015

Retirement Readiness: Unique Considerations for the LGBT Community

Tom Anderson Headshot
Tom Anderson, Author & Wealth Management Advisor

“I don’t know, I’ll probably live to be about 70 or so.”

This is the kind of answer I hear more often than not when I talk to members of the LGBT community about how long they expect to live. I have been in wealth management for nearly two decades and life expectancy is just one of the issues that presents unique and complex retirement considerations for the LGBT community. It’s why I specifically addressed the topic in my new book, The Value of Debt in Retirement.

At the centerpiece of the book is my belief in the importance of factoring people’s debts just as much as their assets when assessing their financial situation. And in many cases, the proper management of the right amount and right kind of debt can potentially increase your wealth, lower your taxes, and reduce your risk in retirement. These are strategies that can often be more complicated for the LGBT community.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the LGBT community in an event sponsored by SAGE and the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Coral Gables in May. I heard a number of stories from the audience about the complicated financial situations they face largely because they are part of the gay and lesbian community.

It’s why one of the first things I stressed in my remarks is to expect to live longer than you think. More and more people are living into their 90s and even 100s and with advances in medicine, those numbers will only continue to climb in the coming years. As you plan for retirement, this is a critical consideration to ensure you don’t run out of money!

Long-term care can also be complicated. Strained family relationships and discrimination can greatly impact the support you need when you are receiving medical care. Those family relationships can contribute to family structures that are often very different from heterosexual individuals and couples. Identifying these structures and determining beneficiaries of things like your IRA, 401 (k), and life insurance are essential.

These are complexities that in some ways are or will be made easier in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last month, guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. But this also raises a host of new questions. What does this mean for Social Security? What are the potential tax implications? I spoke to a lesbian couple at the event in Coral Gables who had the opportunity to get married in Florida prior to the Supreme Court ruling, but have elected not to because of the tax consequences. The moral of the story is you should talk to a financial advisor to get a better understanding of all these complex issues.

I look forward to discussing these topics and other retirement considerations for the LGBT community in more detail – and the new developments in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling – at another SAGE Successful Aging event on October 1st in New York City. I know there are a lot of questions out there, not all of which I can answer, but the first step toward a successful retirement is gaining an understanding of what questions you should be asking in the first place.

--Posted by Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author and nationally acclaimed wealth management advisor. A dynamic public speaker, Tom has trained more than 10,000 financial advisors nationwide, providing a holistic perspective that focuses on both sides of the balance sheet. His latest book "The Value of Debt" is available now.

March 30, 2015

Successful Aging: Preparation

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One of the themes In SAGE’s Successful Aging program is “Preparation.” We define the term as: “Doing what you can, when you can, in advance of and addressing aging related contingencies.” This naturally includes completing wills and all the other related documents, such as living wills and advance directives. But according to a recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Trouble with Advance Directives”, completing the documents may not be preparation enough. For the documents to be effective, treatment providers have to know of them, and what they say.

The article describes a man whose advance directive specified “comfort care only, no heroics.” Not knowing the document existed, much less what it said, his doctors put him on a ventilator, performed a tracheostomy, and inserted a feeding tube. These procedures were approved by the man’s son, who was also unaware of the advance directives, and had never had a conversation with his father about the subject.

The Times article makes clear that getting the documents prepared and signed is only the first step. “Stories abound of documents misplaced, stashed in safe deposit boxes, filed in lawyers’ offices.” Or, as was the case with the case they described, the documents could be in the individual’s file, and were never discussed with family or medical staff.

Even when they’re consulted, the document’s language may prevent ready implementation. If it uses vague or outmoded language (what’s a “terminal “ condition? How long must a “vegetative state” last to qualify as “persistent”?), medical personnel may not be clear about how to proceed.

The best thing “experts say, is an ongoing series of conversations with the relatives or friends who will direct their care when they no longer can. In a crisis, doctors will turn to those people — more than to any document — to learn what the patient wants.”

Preparation, therefore, isn't just about getting a document signed. As the article concluded, “People feel reassured, even downright virtuous, when they have completed their paperwork, ‘but if the family doesn't know about it, if the medical team doesn't know about it, it might as well not exist.’”

October 8, 2014

New National Study: Five Things You Should Know About Aging and LGBT People

Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. It was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Follow Robert on Twitter.

Much has been written about the growing number of older people in this country (as the baby boom generation rapidly ages), as well as the incremental shift in favorable policies and attitudes toward certain segments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population. However, less public attention has been placed on the intersection of these two trends: how LGBT people experience aging, beginning in midlife all the way through later life.

BLOGCovernew research reportOut and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-76—sheds new light on these issues. Based on a 2014 nationally representative study of more than 1,800 LGBT people and more than 500 non-LGBT people, Out and Visible extensively describes how LGBT people feel and experience areas such as healthcare, finance and retirement, support systems, housing and more. The study was commissioned bySAGE and led by Harris Poll.

Here are five things this new study reveals about LGBT older people’s experiences with aging.

1. LGBT older people are concerned about their financial futures and feeling that they need to work much further into later life.  Moreover, many LGBT older people rely largely on their own knowledge and education for retirement planning.

According to this new study, 42 percent of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned that they will outlive the money they have saved for retirement, as compared to 25 percent of non-LGBT people; and half of all single LGBT older believe they will need to work well beyond retirement age. These findings speak to the importance of public policies that protect and support employment among LGBT people, as well as the critical role that financial planning has on one’s retirement outlook (as two solutions). Additionally, single LGBT people have different needs than partnered LGBT people that merit specific attention (among other characteristics explored in this study).

2. LGBT older people report fearing that if their sexual orientations and gender identities become known by healthcare or long-term care providers, as two examples, they will experience judgment, discrimination and inferior care.

Out and Visible notes that 43 percent of single LGBT older people and 40 percent of LGBT older people age 60 and older say their healthcare providers don't know about their sexual orientations. Two-thirds (65 percent) of transgender older adults fear that they will experience limited access to healthcare as they age. Prior research has documented significant health disparities among LGBT older people, spurred by a combination of poor healthcare access and the stressors of stigma and discrimination. In contrast, candid communication between LGBT people and their providers could play a role in improving their quality of care and ultimately, their overall health and well-being.

3. The support networks of LGBT older people are shrinking, and the housing outlook for many LGBT older people isn't optimistic either.

This new study reveals that 40 percent of LGBT older people report that their support networks have become smaller over time, as compared to 27 percent of non-LGBT people. Additionally, one in eight (13%) LGBT people and one in four (25%) transgender people say they have been discriminated against when searching for housing on the basis of their sexual orientations and gender identities, respectively. Secure housing and a supportive network of friends are essential to all people as they age, especially in preventing poverty and social isolation—yet this study shows that LGBT people might be compromised in this regard.

4. LGBT people are diverse and not a monolith—and this study reveals distinct differences that are relevant to providers, government and the broader private sector.

Two notable examples from this study. According to this study, African American LGBT older people are three times as likely as White or Hispanic LGBT older people to say that people from their churches or faith are part of their support systems. Moreover, transgender older people tend to be more worried about being a burden to their loved ones (48% vs. 32%), and knowing where they will live as they grow older (42% vs. 27%) than their cisgender (non-transgender) peers. The study shows additional differences across income, age, relationship status and more.

5. LGBT older people aspire to take on many of the same activities as their non-LGBT peers—yet this study shows that LGBT people are more likely to want to serve as mentors and many fear what might transpire with these options if their sexual orientations and gender identities become known.

According to the study, LGBT and non-LGBT older people cite similar interests for their retirement years: taking part in leisure activities, travel, volunteering, starting a hobby, working part-time and joining social groups. However, key differences also emerged. According to the study, LGBT older people are twice as likely as non-LGBT older people to envision themselves mentoring others (14% vs. 7%). Also, one in four (27%) LGBT older people and one in three (33%) transgender older people feels that work or volunteer activities will not be open to him/her if others know about his/her sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively. 

This study builds on a growing body of research over the last few years that has increasingly, though insufficiently, studied aging concerns among LGBT older people.The report also offers a host of recommendations for leaders in the public and private sectors, most of which are largely centered on the importance of becoming more responsive to the diversity of LGBT people as they age. We’re all aging, regardless of where we fall on the age spectrum, and we deserve to age into systems that enrich our lives, not hinder them.  In this sense, we can all play a role in building a more equitable society.

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.