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LGBT discrimination contributes to poverty as people age

According to Forbes, in 2014, the government included questions about gender identity and sexual orientation on the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. The annual survey was administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and collected data from seniors who made use of specific government assistance programs, such as meal services and senior centers in New York and the rest of the United States.

In 2017, the Trump Administration removed these questions from the survey, stating that they had first been introduced as part of a pilot test and were no longer needed. However, that initial inclusion provided plenty of data that pointed to some dismal news for the LGBT community. LGBT seniors relied more on the services provided by the Old Americans Act than heterosexuals. This was often due to a familial and social disconnect as well as higher poverty rates.

The survey also showed that LGBT seniors of color faced higher levels of discrimination, which often also correlated with lower educational levels and household incomes. Social isolation was especially experienced by bisexual seniors regardless of color. They were also more likely to become depressed. Transgender seniors were also one sub-group of the LGBT community that was adversely affected in a unique way, primarily when stigma and LGBT-discrimination forced them to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Experts hope that with greater acceptance of the LGBT community in modern times compared to even a decade ago, younger LGBT people may stand a better chance. However, CNBC points out that many same-sex couples are struggling to overcome financial obstacles. These issues are especially pronounced when couples move from state to state, as each state have their own gay marriage laws. This may vary even down to the county level in some instances.

At the source of many of the problems ailing the LGBT community is discrimination and bias. This happens not just when applying for a job or renting a new apartment. It also happens on a more personal level from family, friends and perfect strangers. All of these then compound to alienate the LGBT community from the support systems they need just as much as anyone else — if not more — as they age.

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