With aging can come new and overwhelming challenges regarding health, finances, and support. Unfortunately, the discriminatory behaviors of others compound the challenges of aging for many elders within the LGBTQ+ community. Discrimination in the provision of government programs and services for the public is unlawful. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and several state and federal laws help ensure equal rights for LGBT adults.
If you or a loved one are an elder in the LGBTQ+ community, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you safeguard your rights and your family’s rights to asset protection, financial support, and appropriate healthcare. Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin has 15 years of experience and is focused on making sure the law respects the rights and wishes of elders and their families. Contact us today.
What Are the Rights of LGBTQ+ Elders?
Individuals who provide healthcare to, distribute employment and government benefits for, and administer the estates of LGBTQ+ elders need to respect the rights of those elders. If you are an older member of the LGBTQ+ community, you need to know the rights of LGBTQ+ elders to protect yourself against unlawful discrimination. Below, we discuss a number of legal protections you are entitled to under state and federal law.
The Right to Receive Appropriate Healthcare
LGBT elder advocacy group SAGE reports that approximately 20% of LGBT individuals have avoided medical care because they fear discrimination. SAGE also notes that 50% of transgender people have had to educate their healthcare providers about transgender care, and 21% of LGBT individuals reported being spoken to harshly or abusively by healthcare providers. No one should receive or have to anticipate mistreatment at the hands of a medical provider. Fortunately, people in the LGBTQ+ community have enforceable rights to equal treatment for their healthcare needs.
The 2016 Final Rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination in healthcare. This 2016 healthcare rights law outlaws several types of discrimination, including discrimination based on a patient’s sex or gender identity. This law also requires healthcare professionals to provide treatment that is consistent with a patient’s gender identity.
The Older Americans Act (OAA) is a federal law that also focuses on the social service needs of older residents of the United States. The State of New York enacted legislation to ensure that OAA programs administered by New York are cognizant of the needs of elders uniquely affected by discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The Right to Employment and Government Benefits for Same-Sex Couples and Their Families
An important reward of working is the ability it gives us to support ourselves and our families, even after we retire. And many work-related benefits families receive after a disability or retirement depend on a provider’s recognition of a marriage relationship. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage, employer retirement programs that provide benefits to employees’ spouses must provide those benefits regardless of whether the marriage is same-sex or opposite-sex.
The Social Security Administration also recognizes that same-sex spouses and their children have the right to receive Social Security benefits. In addition to same-sex marriages, the Social Security Administration also recognizes some non-marital legal relationships. If you have questions about who is entitled to your Social Security benefits or what benefits you can receive in a same-sex relationship, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can answer your questions.
The Right to Receive and Provide an Inheritance
LGBTQ+ rights are also important when it comes to estate planning. Each state has its own rules for administering inheritance to family members when an individual dies without a will, which is called dying intestate. Under New York’s intestacy laws, the spouse and children of a deceased person who does not have a will receive the estate. If you are in a same-sex marriage, New York law recognizes that your spouse and children have this superior right to inherit your estate.
Why You Need an Attorney
LGBTQ+ elders have several legal protections to address their financial and medical needs, but many people and entities unlawfully ignore those rights. The health and economic survival of you and your family are too vital to leave in the hands of potentially discriminatory providers.
To help ensure that program administrators, courts, family members, and healthcare professionals respect your rights, you should speak to an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney. An attorney can help with matters regarding:
- Estate planning,
- Estate administration,
- Healthcare discrimination,
- Social Security benefits,
- Elder abuse, and
- Other areas of concern.
A good legal advocate can protect your interests in emergency situations regarding your health and benefits. Your attorney can also draft important documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advanced directives to defend you against discrimination during high-stakes life events. Whether you are currently facing a crisis or are concerned about others respecting your voice as you age, you should speak to an attorney about the best ways to protect yourself and your family.
The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Can Help
If you are an LGBTQ+ elder, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. is here to support you and your loved ones. We want to ensure that all elders and their families have equal access to the support and care they have earned and need. We also want to help you establish legal protections that are tailored to your specific circumstances and that can give you peace of mind about your future. Andrew M. Lamkin is an award-winning New York attorney who can help you protect what is most precious to you. He practices in the areas of estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, Medicaid, medical directives, special needs planning, and elder law. Andrew has also recovered millions on behalf of clients in elder law, estate planning, and Medicaid disputes. Our legal team is here to fight for your rights and prevent the harm that comes from the discriminatory behaviors of others. If you need guidance or support, contact us today online or by phone for a free consultation.