PFund Takes on Challenges Facing LGBT Seniors

Started in 1987 with an original grant-giving fund of $2,000, the Philanthrofund Foundation (or PFund for short) has grown into a valuable resource for the LGBT community in the Upper Midwest. One of the fund's major initiatives for the 2012-2013 funding cycle is the LGBT Aging Initiative. The initiative aims to address the special concerns facing LGBT seniors in Minnesota as they age.

As a nation, we're facing the impending retirement and old age of baby boomers. For decades, policy-makers have been working on ways to address the impacts on social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, that would be felt by the aging of this particular generation.

As anyone who followed this week's United States Supreme Court argument on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) now realizes, aging among the LGBT community raises special issues. Provisions built into Medicare and Social Security designed to protect the living spouses of seriously ill persons or to support a surviving spouse after a partner's death do not apply to long-term, committed LGBT couples. As Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case, knows, the federal estate tax will claim a healthy portion of the surviving partner's assets even in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Then there is the simple fact that LGBT individuals from previous generations are more likely to be disconnected from extended families or communities that were less accepting than today. The end result is that many LGBT seniors will fall through the social safety net, be low-income, and have few resources to fall back on as they age.

Recognizing these issues, PFund started the initiative in conjunction with other organizations in Minnesota. The goals are to fund research on LGBT aging issues, educate service providers about those issues, and increase resources to those LGBT seniors in need. PFund has actually been working on LGBT aging issues for a decade now. All of that research and work came together with a steering committee established in 2011 to create a multi-year plan of attack based on all the information PFund and their allied groups had gathered since 2002. The work of that steering committee led to the creation of the 2012-2013 LGBT Aging Initiative.

Grants are still available for 2013 to organizations serving LGBT seniors in Minnesota.