It may be an unfortunate reality, but some believe that our LGBTQ+ community will face a retirement crises different than that of others. Despite the fact that same-sex marriage may currently be legal in this country, it is still wise for the LGBTQ+ community to take into consideration the unique estate planning issues they may possibly face. This should include dealing with the potential retirement issues that they will likely face in their golden years. We can explain some of the issues that should be addressed in your estate plan.
What are the common retirement concerns for the LGBTQ+ community
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the largest organized group in the United States with a goal of improving the lives of LGBTQ+ seniors. They recently conducted a survey in conjunction with Harris Poll where they surveyed 2,376 individuals ages 45 to 75. Of those individuals, 1,857 are LGBTQ+ citizens. According to the survey, the majority of LGBTQ+ seniors (51%) are really concerned that they will not have sufficient financial resources to support themselves during retirement. In contrast, only 36% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals shared that same concern.
The survey also showed that many LGBTQ+ seniors were concerned about their ability to handle any unexpected emergencies during their retirement years. Many also indicated that their personal support system had dwindled over time and they were also concerned that their opportunities for employment or volunteer work would be drastically decreased because of their sexual orientation.
These concerns are the result of historical discrimination
One of the reasons that having the necessary financial stability is so important for the LGBTQ+ community is that, according to research findings, LGBTQ+ seniors live at a higher poverty rate. It is believed that this fact is the direct result of a lifetime of discriminatory treatment. Because of discrimination in the workplace, housing, and other areas, they have a less significant work history and, thus, less savings amassed.
In light of the historical banning of gay marriages, most LGBTQ+ seniors have not had the advantage of accumulating savings from two people, as other married couples have. Since legalized same-sex marriage is a relatively new concept, most older LGBTQ+ couples have been deprived of this perk. Similarly, same-sex couples have historically faced more adverse treatment when it comes to senior housing, which further puts them in a less advantageous position.
How housing discrimination has affected LGBTQ+ seniors
An investigation conducted by the Equal Rights Center shows that 48% of same-sex couples who have applied for senior housing in 10 different states experienced some type of discriminatory treatment. For example, many were presented with fewer options on available units or they were quoted increased fees and more prohibitive application requirements were imposed.
Advice about retirement
We recommends that members of the LGBTQ+ community begin planning for their retirement as soon as possible. When you are ready, we are here to help. It is important to have an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced in handling the unique issues that you will face and sensitive to your needs and circumstances. Likewise, your retirement and estate planning strategies need to be personalized to meet your specific needs.
Understanding the role of Social Security benefits in your retirement
An important part of planning for your retirement is understanding how the Social Security system works. While you are employed, you make contributions to Social Security through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes which are automatically withheld from your pay. Those automatic contributions are used to pay for the Social Security benefits of all workers when it comes time for them to retire. When your time comes, you will likewise receive benefits from the system based on your level of contribution throughout your lifetime.
Social Security benefits will unlikely be insufficient
Historically, as was the goal of the system, an individual’s retirement could be entirely financed through employment pensions and Social Security benefits. Although, the purpose is only to provide a minimum standard of living throughout retirement. That is no longer the case, however. Primarily, this is because Social Security retirement benefits have consistently been reduced and the qualification age has steadily increased. Based on the current retirement trends in our country, retirement benefits will become more difficult for the federal government to afford. For this and many other reasons, you need to consult with an estate planning attorney to get started on your plan for retirement as soon as possible.
If you have questions regarding LGBTQ+ retirement or any other estate planning matters, please contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500. We are here to help!