Know Your Rights: MA Resources for the LGBTQ Elderly
All LGBT people have the right to be respected under law, even as people make their own choices about when to be out and to whom.
SAFETY & RESPECT IN PUBLIC SPACES
You have the right to be protected from discrimination in public accommodations (medical, offices, hospitals and other areas) if you are LGBTQ or if you are perceived as LGBTQ.
You have the right to use restrooms and other gender-differentiated facilities consistent with your gender identity.
GUARDIANSHIP & CONSERVATORSHIP
In guardianship and conservatorship cases, you have a right:
- to request a lawyer; if you cannot afford a lawyer, ask for one to be provided for you
- to have your preference considered for your guardian or conservator
- to notification of any cases involving yourself, your spouse, or anyone that you have been caring for
- to continue practicing your religion after a guardian or conservator has been appointed.
HEALTH CARE PROXY (HPC) & POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA)
You can designate who you want to make your health care decisions (Health Care Proxy) and your financial decisions (Power of Attorney) in case you are ever unable to make them.
HPCs and POAs are especially important for ensuring same-sex partners have the right to make decisions, even if they are not blood relatives or legal next-of-kin. In Massachusetts, you can also nominate a guardian, and that is given consideration by courts if you later have court proceedings about your person.
The Social Security Administration recognizes all legal marriages. Some benefits are spousal benefits during life and survivor benefits after death, including a small amount for funeral expenses.
Note: Be aware that it is not always economically advantageous to be legally married; see a lawyer for advice on how you should protect your rights.
MEDICARE & MEDICAID (MASSHEALTH)
Medicare provides help with the cost of healthcare, but be sure to apply before you turn 65. If you don’t sign up before you become eligible for Medicare, you may be subject to higher premiums.
Medicaid may cover some assisted living expenses.
If your prescription medications are too expensive, there are local and state programs that can help you. Ask your pharmacist about discount programs and assistance.
Has Medicare denied you service, coverage, or payment? Are you not sure how to get the care you need? Contact GLAD Answers to get connected with legal aid.
Boston Elder Info: 617-292-6211
Diverse Elders Coalition: 646-653-5015
Your Elder Experts: 866-924-9543
Sage (Services & Advocacy For GLBTQ Elders): 212-741-2247
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND LEGAL HELP
For more information about your rights and protections, and for referrals, you can contact GLAD Answers, GLAD’s free & confidential legal information line.