June was a time of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community since it was Pride Month. It’s a month of celebration while reflecting on the contributions that the community has made to the country and to humanity as a whole. However, there still remain some major financial problems that the LGBTQ+ community face.
But while there’s quite to bit to celebrate and be happy about, there’s a lot to learn and reflect about as well. Over the past decade, the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way in terms of vocalizing their rights, tackling financial problems and gaining equality with the rest of society.
There has been significant improvement in many areas such as gender-based discrimination in employment, housing, government programs, etc. That said, there’s still a long way to go if total equality is to be achieved, especially in financial matters. As it stands, individuals in the community still face challenges when it comes to getting the right kind of financial guidance and access to related resources.
For example, a survey done in 2018 revealed that more than 60% of the people who took part in it claimed that they had experienced financial challenges in areas of housing, employment, wages, etc., due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Keeping these in mind, we’ve put together some of the financial problems commonly faced by the LGBTQ+ community and tips on how to overcome them.
Irrespective of the income they earn, members of the LGBTQ+ community face severe discrimination when it comes to housing. So much so, that more than 10% of respondents to the survey done by Experian claim that they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, resulting in higher housing costs. In the United States, only 24 states have laws that protect individuals from being discriminated against in matters relating to housing based on their gender and sexual orientation. A few other states have protection only for either sexual orientation or gender identity in regard to housing, but not for both.
Given the already high housing costs in major U.S. cities, this is a serious disadvantage to the community and is harmful especially to those who have low incomes. About 8% of transgender adults have been homeless at some point. Black members of the LGBTQ+ community have a higher rate of homelessness compared to their white counterparts. About 40% of all homeless youngsters are from this community, mostly because their families are not acceptive of their gender identities and sexual orientation.
How to overcome housing challenges: One of the main obstacles and financial problems LGBTQ+ individuals face is discrimination in credit. This heavily affects their housing opportunities. A good way to overcome this is to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that banks and other financial institutions are allowed to ask you legally while assessing your credit. Also, get the latest copy of your credit report and check if all the information is correct. If you notice mistakes, get them corrected before you rent a home or apply for a home loan.
Estate planning is important for your finances as it helps you get your assets and affairs in order, especially towards the later stages of life. Here are a few ways in which estate planning is useful:
- If you’re in a relationship with a person of the same sex but are not married, estate planning can give your partner the right to make decisions on your behalf if you are not in the right health or frame of mind to do so yourself.
- You can nominate the person you want to take care of and provide for your children instead of letting the courts decide.
- Even if you are not legally married to your partner, you can designate them to be the heir to your estate.
- Through estate planning, you can arrange for your relatives to sell your property in the event of untimely death and use the proceeds to manage their livelihood and future.
- You can make sure that your assets, possessions, and money remain only with the people of your choosing.
Estate planning must be done with the help of an experienced legal counsel. The legal fees will vary from one attorney to another but always try and see if there is some scope for negotiation to lower the fees as much as possible.
If you want to start a family with your same-sex partner, there are various options you can look at. Depending on the option you choose, the cost will vary as well. Same-sex couples are now eligible to adopt children across all the 50 states in the country. However, less than 30% of LGBTQ+ people are raising children at present. This has a lot to do with the fact that same-sex couples still face many challenges when trying to adopt children.
In some states, couples of the same sex are not allowed to foster children. In some other states, they are made to go through a lot more scrutiny than what’s normally required. Fertility treatments are another option but cost more money.
If you’re planning to take the reproductive treatment route, here are a few things you need to look for in a clinic:
- The friendliness and welcoming nature of the staff
- The success rate
- The usage of recent and modern technology in fertility treatments
- Their commitment to non-discrimination of LGBTQ+ people
Fertility treatments can be quite expensive. Here’s how you can get help with this:
- Look for organizations and charities that give grants for fertility treatments and that are also accepting of LGBTQ+ couples.
- Talk to your insurance company. They may not cover all the expenses, but they usually cover doctor’s consultations and medicines.
- Try crowdfunding. It may help you get the money you need to cover your treatment costs.
Couples of the same sex can now get coverage from their spouses’ insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. This Act has also ensured that a higher number of people in the LGBTQ+ community have health insurance now. While these achievements are great, a few more gaps need bridging. Medical costs and healthcare inequalities impact the community in the following ways:
- LGBTQ+ individuals are not as likely to get health insurance as regular people.
- It is more likely that the LGBTQ+ community reports higher chronic medical conditions and rates their health poorly. The treatments for this cost more money.
- When compared to the general society, LGBTQ+ individuals are less likely to get the care they need on time. They are less likely to fill out prescriptions and more likely to face discrimination. They face harassment from healthcare workers and are more likely to be denied healthcare services.
How to get health insurance
Here’s how single LGBTQ+ people with low incomes or who don’t have jobs can get health coverage:
- Medicare coverage
- Insurance plans make you eligible for tax credits that can reduce monthly bills on an income basis
- For minor dependents, look at the Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Check with your doctor on other ways in which you can save money with regard to medicines
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015, same-sex marriages in the US are legal. LGBTQ+ married couples are eligible to file their taxes either jointly or separately just like other married couples. Therefore, LGBTQ+ couples who are married have the same financial grounds in relation to taxes. They will be able to save money if they choose to file jointly and save themselves from problems.
That said, here are the factors that can help you make a decision on how to file your taxes:
- The amount earned by each individual
- The amount of student debt owed at present
- The number of dependents in the family
- If either of the individuals is not under employment
The best way to find how to save on taxes you owe is to get advice from a taxation expert. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for deductions that can reduce the taxes you owe.