EBRI Issue Brief

Retirement Confidence Survey and the LGBTQ Community

Jun 14, 2022 55  pages


The Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) was conducted for its 32nd year in 2022 to measure attitudes of American workers and retirees about issues surrounding retirement. For the first time, in 2022, the RCS included an oversample of LGBTQ Americans to allow for an analysis of the challenges that LGBTQ workers and retirees face in preparing for and living in retirement. Questions included in this year’s survey explore priorities in regard to preparing for retirement and experiences with the financial system that may affect LGBTQ Americans’ retirement preparations.

The demographic profiles and composition of the LGBTQ population in the United States differs from those of the overall population. LGBTQ Americans are more likely to have lower incomes and assets, be younger, and have lower health statuses. This is a critically important consideration as financial resources (income and assets) have historically had a clear correlation to retirement confidence and responses to many other RCS metrics. Consequently, this Issue Brief closely examines the responses of LGBTQ Americans, taking into account some of these key demographic differences while comparing them to non-LGBTQ Americans. Key findings are:

  • In each income group, LGBTQ Americans are less likely to be confident in having enough to live comfortably throughout retirement. For example, in the upper-income group, 89 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans compared with 76 percent of LGBTQ Americans report that they are confident about their retirement prospects.
  • LGBTQ Americans are more likely to consider debt to be a major or minor problem for their household than non-LGBTQ Americans, across each income group. In the upper-income group, 64 percent of LGBTQ Americans consider debt a problem vs. 39 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans. As a result, LGBTQ Americans are more likely to say debt is impacting their ability to save for retirement or emergencies.
  • Low- and middle-income LGBTQ Americans are less likely to agree that they are knowledgeable about managing their day-to-day finances than non-LGBTQ Americans. Furthermore, in each income group, LGBTQ Americans are more likely to agree that they do not know who to go to for good financial or retirement planning advice than non-LGBTQ Americans.
  • LGBTQ Americans, in the lower- and upper-income groups, are more likely to agree that retirement savings is not a priority relative to current needs than non-LGBTQ Americans. In the upper-income group, 39 percent of LGBTQ Americans agree that retirement savings is not a priority relative to current needs compared with 25 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans.
  • In the lower- and middle-income groups, LGBTQ Americans are more likely to feel their household’s financial needs are different than other households. Among LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Americans, the top two longer-term financial priorities are saving and investing for retirement and planning for future health and long-term care needs. However, LGBTQ Americans are more likely to cite developing a strategy for reducing debt, purchasing a home, starting a business, and establishing/growing a family through adoption or having children as being among their top three priorities.
  • LGBTQ Americans are less likely to work with a financial advisor but are more likely to express a preference for working with an advisor who has had similar life experiences to them and is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Sixty-three percent of LGBTQ Americans say working with an advisor who is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is important vs. 21 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans.
  • LGBTQ retirees are more likely to say that they retired earlier than planned. Sixty percent of LGBTQ retirees say they retired earlier than planned compared with 47 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans. This holds true in the middle- and upper-income groups.

LGBTQ Americans have disproportionately lower financial resources, and how they feel about retirement and financial security is clearly affected by having fewer resources. LGBTQ Americans are more likely to have priorities other than retirement savings, which would mean they could benefit from increased assistance in balancing competing financial priorities, such as debt reduction, supporting family, and their own long-term savings. In addition, financial service companies could make LGBTQ Americans more comfortable in their interactions, as these individuals are more likely to feel that they have not been treated fairly by financial service companies. Lower- and upper-income LGBTQ Americans are also more likely to say they have had trouble accessing or utilizing employer-sponsored benefits for their dependents or beneficiaries, which could be hindering their full participation in these programs.

One financial solution that LGBTQ Americans appear to be especially interested in is products that provide guaranteed income for life, as middle- and upper-income LGBTQ Americans prefer having income stability to maintaining wealth. Thus, a greater understanding by financial service companies and their representatives of the unique needs of the LGBTQ Americans could help LGBTQ Americans reach their more diverse savings goals while providing the income stability in retirement they tend to prefer.

EBRI and Greenwald would like to thank the 2022 RCS sponsors who helped shape this year’s survey: American Century, American Funds/Capital Group, Ayco, Bank of America, BlackRock, Columbia Threadneedle, Empower Retirement, Fidelity Investments, FINRA, Jackson National, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., LGIMA (Legal & General Investment Management America), Mercer, Mutual of America, Nationwide, NEFE, New York Life, PGIM, PIMCO, Principal Financial Group, Retirement Clearinghouse, T. Rowe Price, and US Chamber of Commerce.