Respect Equality

LGBTQ+ Americans are more worried about saving for retirement than their non-LGBTQ+ peers, survey finds

Across all income groups, LGBTQ+ Americans were less likely to report feeling confident in their ability to save for retirement.
(Compassionate Eye Foundation/David Oxberry/Getty Images)

Story at a glance

  • LGBTQ+ Americans are more likely than non-LGBTQ+ Americans to say they are confident they will have enough money saved to live comfortably in retirement, according to a study released this month by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in Washington.

  • LGBTQ+ Americans were also more likely to report that their debts were a significant roadblock to their retirement.

  • Prior research has found that LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. make lower wages than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

LGBTQ+ Americans are markedly more anxious than heterosexual and cisgender Americans when it comes to saving for retirement, new research suggests.

In an annual survey measuring retirement confidence published this month, LGBTQ+ Americans across all income brackets were less likely to say they were confident in having enough money to live comfortably through retirement. More than half of middle-income LGBTQ+ Americans, for instance, said they were not confident they could live comfortably in retirement, compared with 29 percent of non-LGBTQ+ Americans.

The survey, released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in Washington, found that LGBTQ+ Americans were more likely to say that paying off debt is a primary inhibiting factor to their ability to save for retirement or emergencies.

Even in the highest income group, 64 percent of LGBTQ+ Americans said they considered their debts to be a “problem,” compared with 39 percent of non-LGBTQ+ Americans.

Our country is in a historic fight against the coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

Among the lower- and middle-income groups, LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ Americans both said their longer-term financial priorities included saving and investing for retirement and planning for future health or long-term care needs.

But LGBTQ+ Americans were more likely to have additional financial priorities, including developing a pathway to reducing debt, purchasing a home, starting a business and establishing or growing their family through adoption or having children.

The survey notes that LGBTQ+ adults in America typically have lower incomes and assets compared with their non-LGBTQ+ peers, and across all income groups, heterosexual and cisgender adults were more likely to report having $250,000 or more in savings.

A Human Rights Campaign Foundation report published in January found that full-time LGBTQ+ workers in the U.S. earn roughly 90 cents on the dollar. The wage gap is even wider among LGBTQ+ people of color, and Black LGBTQ+ Americans make just 80 cents for every dollar earned by the average worker, while Native American LGBTQ+ workers earn just 70 cents.

Another HRC Foundation report released earlier this month found that, for every dollar earned by the typical American man, LGBTQ+ women, specifically, earn just 79 cents.

In a December report published by the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank focusing on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, nearly half of transgender respondents said they had recently had difficulty paying for typical household expenses like food and rent.

The EBRI survey also found that LGBTQ+ Americans are less likely to be married than their non-LGBTQ+ peers (28 percent vs. 59 percent), meaning LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. are less likely to have access to things like spousal benefits. They’re also more likely to report difficulties in accessing employer-sponsored benefits for their dependents or beneficiaries, which could be hindering their full participation in the programs.

LGBTQ+ Americans were also more likely than their non-LGBTQ+ peers to report a lack of trust in financial companies, which they said have treated them unfairly in the past and don’t actually know how to effectively help LGBTQ+ people into retirement.

Financial service companies, representatives, and advisors should focus on making LGBTQ+ people feel more comfortable, the survey suggests, “perhaps by emphasizing the commonality of some financial goals while also acknowledging differences in the LGBTQ clients’ current financial position and differences in future goals.”

LGBTQ+ respondents emphasized in the survey that they want to work with financial professionals who demonstrate they are an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.