PBS: LGBT Community Faces Unique Retirement Crisis

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) older Americans are facing a retirement crisis for reasons separate from those of their straight brethren, writes PBS media partner Next Avenue in a recent column, adding that there are a growing number of same-sex retirement communities around the country.

The article is part of Twin Cities Public Television Next Avenue’s year-long project about aging well, planning for the changes aging brings and shaping how society thinks about aging.

More than half (51%) of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned about having enough money to live on in retirement, compared to 36% of non-LGBT who people felt that way, a recent report from Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and Harris Poll found.

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“Our survey found a heavy level of worries by older LGBT people that they won’t be able to survive in retirement that were significantly higher than older Americans in general,” Michael Adams, SAGE’s executive director, tells Next Avenue. “And there were high levels of concern about growing old alone and being a burden on others. I was struck by the severity of these concerns.” 

Forty percent of LGBT older people say their support networks have become smaller over time, compared to 27% of non-LGBT people, the study found.

And gays and lesbians are twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to live alone in retirement, without a significant other or close relative to call for help.

In addition, 27% of LGBT older adults feel that work or volunteer activities during retirement won’t be open to them if others know about their sexual orientation. 

“LGBT people have needs and aspirations that are, in many ways, different than those of the heterosexual population as we age,” says Robert Espinoza, senior director of Policy and Communications at SAGE. “We saw this in every area we studied.”

LGBT retirees concerned about their prospects should start planning as early as possibly, and also reach out to a financial advisor — especially one with experience helping those in the LGBT community.

Read the column here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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