On July 10th the Administration on Aging (AoA), the federal agency responsible for funding and programs for our country's older adults, released an historic announcement that recognized LGBT older adults among those populations of "greatest social need" when planning for and providing services throughout the country.
This means so much that the Obama Administration's Administration on Aging took these significant steps to recognize that LGBT older adults exist and to ensure that there is money available to support programs that aim to reduce their isolation, thus improving their quality of life.
The LGBT Aging Project and our colleagues across the country have long advocated for such a ruling that would include LGBT older adults in these guidelines and we applaud AoA for making this announcement.
In response to questions received about the inclusion of LGBT (and other) populations that may be included in the definition of "greatest social need," AOA today issued a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ).
The FAQ explains that the definition of greatest social need does not exclude isolated populations other than racial and ethnic minorities and may include, depending on the planning and service area, religious minorities, individuals isolated due to sexual orientation or gender identity or other special populations.
The new FAQ reads as follows:
Q: Does "greatest social need" as defined in the Older Americans allow communities to target funds to populations they identify as experiencing cultural, social or geographic isolation other than isolation caused by racial or ethnic status?
A: While the definition of "greatest social need" in the Older Americans Act includes isolation caused by racial or ethnic status, the definition is not intended to exclude the targeting of populations that experience cultural, social or geographic isolation due to other factors. In some communities, such isolation may be caused by minority religious affiliation. In others, isolation due to sexual orientation or gender identity may restrict a person's ability to perform normal daily tasks or live independently. Each planning and service area must assess their particular environment to determine those populations best targeted based on "greatest social need".
The Older Americans Act encourages the Aging Network to target services to those of greatest economic or social need. Greatest social need is defined in the Act as:
24) The term ''greatest social need'' means the need caused by non-economic factors, which include-
(A) physical and mental disabilities;
(B) language barriers; and
(C) cultural, social, or geographical isolation, including isolation caused by racial or ethnic status, that-
(i) restricts the ability of an individual to perform normal daily tasks; or
(ii) threatens the capacity of the individual to live independently