My mother is turning 70 in October and we are planning a nice gathering in New Orleans to celebrate this milestone. She has lived on a fixed income now for seven years. My father’s pension from IBM and Social Security benefits have allowed her to maintain a similar standard of living as they shared when he was alive. However, since my parents were not ones to save, my mom does not have much of any cushion for use when unexpected things come up like the roof needing to be repaired or a tree falling on the property. Since we are in the thick of hurricane season and she lives in South Louisiana, those things are expenses with a higher likelihood than most. Being in the generation who is caring for children and aging parents, we are often called upon to help fill those expense gaps, and are happy and blessed to be able to do so.
In our personal retirement plans, we are not anticipating Social Security will still be around or available; so we are not counting it in our plan. However, the generation before me faces a gap that is beyond a personal decision to not save. Families who look like ours and are now in their 60′s will not have the security afforded my mom through survivor benefits. Because Social Security survivor benefits are not available to a same-sex surviving spouse it can cost them up to $14,076 per year. Most spouses pay into social security with the expectation that their surviving spouse will receive this benefit and in turn, will be able to maintain a home and continue to provide for their children. This security is not afforded to same sex couples – offering little security in social security.