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The Issues

LGBTQ+ Retirement: What You Need to Know

Billie Simmons
Did you know that half of all LGBTQ+ people believe they will have to work well beyond retirement age?

Retirement can be a scary prospect if you aren’t prepared. For a lot of people, the thought of things like 401ks, retirement homes and relying on familial support can send anyone into panic, but for LGBTQ+ people, it’s often even scarier

Finding Support

40% of LGBTQ+ older people have said that their networks have become smaller over time, as compared to 27% of non-LGBTQ+ people. They are also more likely to live alone and less likely to have children or family that they can rely on to advocate on their behalf.

I do wonder if this will change over time; in our previous article about Queer Families we found that 63% of LGBTQ+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children. But for our current cohort of LGBTQ+ seniors the numbers are not quite this high, largely because it’s only recently become socially acceptable and legal for LGBTQ+ couples to raise families and adopt in the USA.

Roth IRA who?

The general consensus goes like this: if you want to be prepared for retirement, you need to start young. But being able to afford to put a hundred dollars a month or more in an account you won’t be able to touch for 40+ years is a hard concept to swallow if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or…yknow…during a global pandemic.

Additionally, 25% of LGBTQ+ Millennials rate their investing knowledge/financial acumen as very knowledgeable, compared to a third (33%) of Non-LGBTG+ Millennials who rate themselves as very knowledgeable. I think a lot of people don’t even know where to start when it comes to retirement! There are all these confusing terms like ‘Roth IRA’ and ‘401k’ that you hear a lot, but no one ever seems to be able to explain what they actually mean.

The cost of being queer

All of our research ultimately points to the fact that being LGBTQ+ just costs more than being non-LGBTQ+. We’re more likely to have more student debt, family planning costs more, trans people face astronomical costs to self-actualize and even LGBT+ retirement homes cost more! They’re more likely to be in a city with a higher cost of living, and there are fewer of them (maybe as few as 22!).

But why does being in an LGBTQ+ specific retirement home matter? Well, for one thing, a lot of LGBT+ seniors fear being discriminated against, or just simply misunderstood. I highly recommend this podcast episode by Nancy on queer retirement. Hearing the conflict in the voices of gay seniors as they discuss the awkwardness of their straight friends at retirement homes presuming that they’re also straight really drives home how important it is that you’re able to grow old in a space that understands you and doesn’t try and erase your identity.