Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) to Introduce Social Security Equality Act of 2012 to Ensure Equal Benefits for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults
SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams joins a coalition of other LGBT leaders at a Capitol Hill rally to draw attention to the inequities faced by same-sex couples under current Social Security rules.
To date, 89 co-sponsors have signed on to the Social Security Equality Act. Scheduled speakers at the event include: United States Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA); LGBT equality activist and television icon, George Takei; actor and comedian, Hal Sparks; L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO, Lorri L. Jean; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund Executive Director, Rea Carey; SAGE Executive Director, Michael Adams; ACAF (AIDS Community Action Foundation) President, Craig R. Miller; and Rock for Equality Spokeswoman Alice Herman.
"Social Security serves as a lifeline for millions of our country's elders, including LGBT older adults, lifting them out of poverty and addressing the economic instability created from lifetimes of discrimination," said SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams. "LGBT older people pay into Social Security just like everybody else, and they deserve the same benefits as everybody else. By strengthening the Social Security Act and the broader federal safety net for elders so that same-sex couples are treated equitably, we can take a critically important step toward ensuring support and dignity for all elders in our country."
SAGE has been a strong advocate for making Social Security more equitable for same-sex couples, as well as preserving the critical safety net program for all older people. In 2011, SAGE developed a range of multimedia resources that educate the public on these specific barriers, viewable at sageusa.org/socialsecurity.
Nearly 54 million people, or one in four households, receive Social Security benefits, which provide economic support to American workers and their families who have lost income due to retirement, disability or death.
Yet while Social Security is a critical source of income for many older adults, including LGBT elders, same-sex couples are denied some key benefits under the program.
For example, same-sex partners are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits, survivor benefits or death benefits, which can contribute to higher poverty rates among LGBT older adults and significantly reduce retirement income. Reports show that a same-sex partner's average loss under the denial of the survivor benefit can cost up to $28,152 per year. This can mean the difference between poverty or a sustainable living income.
"While intended to aid the country's most vulnerable, the Social Security Act's parameters have let many LGBT elders slip through the cracks," said Aaron Tax, SAGE's Director of Federal Government Relations. "For too long, same-sex couples have been denied many of Social Security's key benefits, which has severely affected their quality of life. With the numbers of LGBT elders projected to double over the next two decades, it is more critical than ever to address this growing inequity."
The Social Security Equality Act of 2012 Introduction and Rally will take place at the House Triangle on April 26, 2012 at 11:00 am. The event is being organized by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in coalition with SAGE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, and the AIDS Community Action Foundation. For event details, visit rockforequality.org.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 30 SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.