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LGBT – Housing, Financial, Legal Matters

Housing Considerations

Whether they are looking for supportive services in their current home or looking for new housing with supportive services, LGBT individuals and couples need to ensure that services or housing providers are inclusive and culturally competent to work with LGBT families.

A new and growing option is LGBT elder housing. It’s limited in availability now, but more of these residences designed specifically for the needs of the LGBT aging community are springing up across the U.S.

For more information on housing and supportive services, including LGBT specific housing, go to the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging at www.lgbtagingcenter.org

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

Not all CCRCs are the same, and not all are LGBT competent:

  • Since LGBT individuals or same-sex couples may be treated differently depending on the CCRC, it’s important to research the facility thoroughly before making a decision.
  • As noted above, you may want to consider retirement housing with services designed for LGBT older adults.

Financial Planning

Due to the lack of uniformity in state and federal laws, the financial implications for LGBT couples—even those who are legally married—are very different than for heterosexual married couples.  Consider that:

  • In states that allow it, having a legally recognized partnership (domestic partnership, civil union, marriage, etc.) increases your chances of maximizing insurance and financial benefits.
  • However, as long as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) remains the law, you have very limited access to federal partner benefits.
  • There are over 1,000 Federal laws in which marriage status is a consideration. These laws confer rights, protections, and benefits to opposite-sex married couples.
  • Under DOMA, partners in same-sex unions cannot receive a wide range of federal benefits, including Social Security survivor benefits, federal tax benefits and federal employee health and retirement benefits.
  • Although some states allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, the majority of states don’t recognize marriages between same-sex partners
  • In other states, same-sex couples can register as domestic partners, but under most Federal laws, this makes no difference in terms of benefit eligibility.
  • Same-sex couples, whether unmarried, married, or registered as domestic partners, are not permitted to enjoy most of the federal marriage benefits provided to opposite-sex married couples. Plan accordingly.

Legal Issues

Planning for long-term care can be complicated and filled with pitfalls. That’s why having legal documents that clearly define your relationship and individual interests, and clearly express your wishes, is of particular importance to members of the LGBT community.

Regardless of whether you are in a domestic partnership, marriage or other legal relationship, you should still be prepared with a Power of Attorney for Health or Property, a will, and any other legal documents that clearly state your wishes