Retirement isn’t easy for most couples, and it’s even harder for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A modest amount of planning can go a long way to providing the financial support you need.
Many LGBTQ seniors and those of working age:
- Have faced employment discrimination in their careers;
- Can’t rely on family members for assistance, since far too many don’t have spouses and children to provide care; and
- Are not up to date on Social Security benefits.
All of us need to save more and manage our money better. But let’s explore a few of the retirement worries facing the LGBTQ community today.
Retirement Is Not Easy
Bias can be financially costly for members of the LGBTQ community. Discrimination in employment means less money to save, and it has only been a few years since same-sex couples have had the same access to Social Security. Married or not, LGBTQ baby boomers are less likely to be able to save for retirement as they face discrimination in hiring and wages. In fact, the Williams Institute found that the wage gap between gay and heterosexual men goes as high as 32%.
Further, there is real concern about LGBTQ boomers falling into poverty during retirement. Plenty of studies show that gay and lesbian couples have a lot less saved for retirement than their heterosexual counterparts. According to an Associated Press analysis, same-sex couples have median retirement savings of $66,000, 25% less than opposite-sex couples.
Workplace discrimination, making less doing the same jobs, and not saving adequately are just a few of the reasons that those in the LGBTQ community have less in retirement savings than their heterosexual peers. Then if you layer on the statistics of living alone, without they typical family safety nets, then of course retirement security is a huge worry.
The Worries of Living Alone in Retirement
According to an AARP survey of older LGBTQ adults, gay men are much more likely to live alone – again without the traditional family safety nets – compared to lesbians. Here are some sobering stats from the AARP survey:
- 57% of gay men were single compared to 43% of lesbians;
- 27% gay men were married compared to 39% of lesbians;
- 46% of gay men lived alone; and
- 36% of lesbians lived alone.
When it comes to having children:
- Bisexual community members responded with the highest numbers at 59%;
- Gender-expansive was next at 53%;
- Lesbian women were at 43%; and
- Gay men came in at the lowest with just 19% having children.
With statistics like these, the retirement worry among LGBTQ people grows exponentially.
Social Security Benefits
You probably know that on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, asserting that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. But what you might not know is that this decision made it possible for same-sex couples and their families to benefit from Social Security programs.
As such, there are a few important things to do. First, the Social Security Administration encourages you to apply right away for benefits, even if you are not sure you are eligible. According to the SSA, applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.
Next, you must tell the Social Security Administration that you are married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement and Supplemental Security Income. Directly from the Social Security Administration:
“Your marital status is important for our retirement, survivor, and disability programs because you or your spouse could be entitled to benefits or a higher benefit amount based on the relationship. Children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits. For some surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and adults disabled during childhood, benefits could end if they marry.”
Finally, if you change your name, be sure to let the Social Security Administration know. Otherwise, your earnings may not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the benefits you are due. The SSA will provide you with an updated Social Security card free of charge.
Talk to Your Financial Professional
Again, all of us need to save more and manage our money better. If you are concerned about how being a member of the LGBTQ community may affect your retirement, talk to your financial professional. Your financial professional can help create a personalized financial plan specifically tailored to your hopes and dreams – with far less worry than if you go at it alone.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
This article was prepared by Financial Media Exchange LLC.
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