WHAT: Know Your Rights/California and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare Foundation is hosting TWO FREE TOWN HALL MEETINGS for LGBT Seniors in San Diego County. Inspired by the Windsor ruling on June 26, 2013, the Know Your Rights Initiative/California aims to educate LGBT seniors and LGBT military veterans about their potential enhanced benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). These Town Hall meetings are even more relevant since the June 2015 decision in Obergefell, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
WHERE: Ohr Shalom Synagogue, 2512 Third Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92103.
Parking is available on the street.
ADMISSION IS FREE.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION ENCOURAGED: KnowYourRightsSD.com or call the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation at 619-291-3383.
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are TWO Town Hall Meetings. The first meeting is for LGBT Military Veterans. The second meeting is a general session for LGBT seniors, particularly those who are married or considering marriage.
BEST TIME TO COVER: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and again from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
REASONS WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:
- Social Security benefits serve not only as a vital economic boost to individuals and couples, but also provide significant economic stimulus to their communities. It is important for all individuals who believe they may be deserving of additional benefits to file immediately.
- First of its kind in the nation, the morning Town Hall dedicated to LGBT military veterans aims to not only educate attendees about Social Security benefits, but also strengthen the relationship between older LGBT military veterans and government agencies in light of the now invalidated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy established in February 1994.
- The event is part of a very successful Town Hall series that kicked off in Northern California in April 2015 and concludes with four Town Halls in Southern California (Santa Ana, Palm Springs and San Diego) in September.
- Following the Windsor decision in June 2013 and the Obergefell decision in June 2015, many federal benefits became available to same-sex married couples, those most financially rewarding being Social Security.
- With an estimated 780,000 same-sex married couples in the U.S., these town hall meetings aim to help attendees better understand these benefits and how to access them. Benefits as a spouse or survivor might be higher than benefits to which an individual would otherwise be entitled.
- What kind of Social Security benefits are now available to LGBT seniors / LGBT military veterans?
- Spousal benefits
- Widow/widower benefits
- Family benefits
- A great example is spousal benefits where if LGBT seniors are eligible, they may now collect on their spouse’s record.
- In California, in 2014 the average increase under spousal benefits for same-sex married couples was between $600 to $700 a month.
- This extra money every month can help LGBT seniors purchase necessities like medication, groceries and reduce the risk of homelessness.
- The California Wellness Foundation generously sponsors the 2015 Know Your Rights Initiative/California program.
VISUALS AND SPOKESPERSONS:
- Ellen Morgenstern, Project Director, Know Your Rights Initiative/California; National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare Foundation;
- Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration (see above on how to submit interview requests);
- Each Town Hall meeting will begin with welcome remarks from Acting Commissioner Colvin. Then there will be a moderated panel featuring Social Security experts and local San Diego area leaders. The following is a list of confirmed panelists for the morning and evening meetings (as of August 13, 2015):
- Grace M. Kim, Regional Commissioner, Social Security Administration – San Francisco Region (morning and evening panel)
- Steve Breen, Deputy Regional Commissioner, Social Security Administration – San Francisco Region (morning and evening panel)
- Web Phillips, Senior Policy Analyst, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (morning and evening panel)
- Gary Chesterton, Assistant Director, US Department of Veterans Affairs – San Diego Regional Office (morning panel)
- Wil Quintong, Military & Veterans Affairs Officer, Office of Military & Veterans Affairs – Health & Human Services Agency (morning panel)
- Joaquin Anguera, Professor of Gerontology, School of Social Work – San Diego State University (morning and evening panel)
- John L. Brown, Executive Director, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation (evening panel)
- Ellen Schmedling, M.S., MFT, Director, Aging & Independence – Health & Human Services (evening panel)
- Timothy Caudill, LGBT military veteran, Armed Forces Advocate (morning panel)
- IMPORTANT: If you are interested in an interview on Sept. 30 with Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration or any SSA representative, you will be introduced to the on-site press agent for SSA. Their availability to interview an SSA representative is between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., in-person, at the synagogue. Interviews will focus on LGBT issues and the Know Your Rights initiative. Any questions they are not able to address during the day’s activities, may be submitted via email to SF.RPA@ssa.gov for a response.
AFTER SEPT. 30 — The Town Hall meeting will be available for replay on-demand at KnowYourRightsSD.com beginning Oct. 2 for 90 days.
About the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation (NCF)
Founded in 2006, the mission of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation (NCF) is to protect, promote, and ensure the financial security, health, and well being of current and future generations of older Americans through research, analysis, and public education. NCF is the 501c(3) arm of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare which is the #1 advocacy group fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare for all citizens including younger workers, baby-boomer families and the nation’s 40 million seniors. The Foundation can be reached online at www.ncpssmfoundation.org.