One big reason why older Americans in the LGBTQ community may be behind in retirement savings is discrimination, specifically related to housing and unemployment, according to one expert.
“A lot of them are entering their older years and their assets and income and retirement savings are simply smaller,” Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI, a think tank on direct care workforce, recently told Yahoo Finance. “Many LGBTQ of all ages talk about how they’re treated differently in many settings.”
Espinoza’s comments come at a time when almost 3 in 10 LGBTQ Americans say saving for retirement was a top financial concern, according to a study by Experian, a consumer credit reporting company.
“I think if you imagine an LGBTQ older person in their 70s and 80s, I mean they have seen monumental changes in their lives,” Espinoza said. “From being criminalized and denied basic rights under housing and employment, I think that adds up.”
Protections for the LGBTQ community have increased in the last 10 years. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled LGBTQ populations were protected in the workforce through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The ruling follows a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made it clear marriage equality was protected by the Constitution and a 2010 memorandum by President Barack Obama that protected the health care decision-making and visitation rights of LGBTQ people.
“I think we’re seeing America is really changing quickly [and] we’re seeing a rapidly aging country,” Espinoza said. “We’re seeing a first generation of LGBTQ people of all ages who have been able to age openly in their lives.”
Still, challenges remain for the community. LGBTQ people are at risk of housing discrimination. Only 21 states prohibit discrimination in housing based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. The White House also recently rolled back health care protections for transgender individuals.
On a more personal level, there are many more financial advisors today who can accommodate the specific retirement needs of those in the LGBTQ community, Espinoza said.
“I think it’s helpful to communicate with someone who understands your life and your circumstances,” he said, “and to sit down with them and get a sense of how I want to live.”