Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by Rachel
Help for Seniors in Alaska – 17 Assistance Programs
Alaska is known for its cold winters throughout the country. Although it has beautiful mountains and exciting wildlife, it might be difficult for senior residents to live in this state. Real estate in Alaska is low-cost yet the elderly may need financial support to live in a secure and good neighborhood. There are several federal, state, and charity based programs and organizations that help senior citizens of this state.
State Resources for Seniors
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), through the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services renders assistance to senior citizens resident in the state. The primary focus is on the health, well-being and safety of seniors in the state. The DHSS offers grants to nonprofit organizations for them to support challenged seniors, especially through the provision of services to aid independent living. A Medicaid waiver is also available to seniors who are on a waitlist for some other assistance but require immediate help. Other programs offered by the Department include Personal Care Services (PCS) and Community First Choice Personal Care Services (CFC PCS). These are programs that support the daily needs of living such as bathing, feeding, shopping, etc. Ensuring that seniors in need get a decent life in the state. DHSS also provides several directory listings with useful resources for seniors in the state. Further information on the programs offered can be found at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/Pages/HCBWprogram.aspx.
Alaska offers the Senior Benefits Program as a support to financially assist low- and moderate-income seniors in the state. To qualify, seniors must be at least 65 years old and have a gross annual income within the stipulated limits which can be found at http://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/e-forms/pdf/SB-01.pdf. Monthly cash payments of either $76, $175 or $250 are given to each senior, with the amount being determined by the income level. Income limits for each payment level are decided based on the Alaska Federal Poverty Guidelines and vary annually as the guidelines change. This is a program offered by the Division of Public Assistance, under the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). Additional information can be obtained from https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/seniorbenefits/default.aspx.
The Alaska DHSS also administers the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP). This is a subprogram of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant and is set up to provide cash assistance which financially challenged seniors can benefit from. This is done, with a view to helping them attain eventual self-sufficiency. Seniors can receive ATAP funds for up to a maximum of 60 months and must have less than $3000 worth of resources, excluding home, household items, personal property and most vehicles. ATAP ultimately tries to help provide some form of employment which can help the seniors sustain themselves. Details on the program can be found at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/atap/default.aspx.
Alaska Commission on Aging is financed by the State of Alaska on the verge of helping the economic independence and welfare of senior residents. It provides financial support and helps with finding a job based on their background and health condition. Explore more opportunities through the following link http://dhss.alaska.gov/acoa/Pages/default.aspx or dial 800 478 9996.
Housing and Rent Assistance
Senior and Accessible Housing is managed by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) to help low-income seniors living in Anchorage, Ketchikan, Juneau, Fairbanks, Cordova, Seward, Wasilla, and Sitka. It offers housing assistance with one-bedroom units that have various home services. Seniors who have the following eligibility criteria can appeal for this housing support.
- You must be 62 or older.
- Your total income must be at or under 80% of the area median revenue.
- You must be in a financial crisis regardless of the total household number in the family.
To see the open waiting list and available units in your city, please visit https://www.ahfc.us/publichousing/rental-programs/seniordisabled-housing or dial the free hotline 800 478 2432.
Section 811 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PRA) Program
The PRA program was formed and has been sponsored by the State of Alaska, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC). These three institutions collaborate on this program for low-income individuals to assist permanent housing support in Alaska.
- You must be in one of the target populations which are listed by the program.
- You must have a disability that is accepted by HUD.
- You must be between 18-62 years old.
- You must prove your financial hardship with documentation.
- Your total household income must be under 30 percent of the area median revenue.
- You must have a sponsoring agency.
To access the application form, follow the link http://dhss.alaska.gov/dbh/pages/initiatives/integratedhousing/hud-811.aspx or contact 907 269 3600.
Home Repair Grants
The Senior Housing Modification Program is financed by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) and is also recognized as the Senior Access Program in public. It is a well-known service that assists low and moderate-income senior residents with financial support. Seniors who are troubling to repair home items or need a hand with something at home can get in touch with this program. Refer to Home Repair Grants For Seniors to access additional resources that aid with home repairs and improvements. Aging issues may resolve easily with the help of this service. The mission of this program is to decrease the number of nursing home placements and related expenses in Alaska. Thus the program works for the elderly to remain in their own homes or settle them in a small housing facility. To learn more, go to http://www.alaskacdc.org/senior-accessibility-program.html or make a call at (907) 746 5680.
Seniors who are 65 or older and have already been receiving Alaska’s Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waiver (ALI) are qualified for this benefit. The ALI program offers several services aimed to assist seniors to remain in an elderly living setting. Accepted residents can have extensive daily care coordination and health support in these living settings. The program may provide special medical equipment or nursing services based on the applicant’s specific health condition. The link to their official website is as follows http://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/Documents/pdfs/SDS_MedWaiverBrochure.pdf.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers in Alaska is subsidized by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the federal government to make cooperation among seniors, disabled people, and caregivers. This medical assistance may be a long term service depending on the applicants’ situation. The State of Alaska attaches particular importance to the health support for seniors by appointing the Department of Health and Social Services as the State Agency on Aging. Therefore, these centers present nutrition services, transportation, and cash support. For additional information, visit http://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/pages/adrc/default.aspx or dial the hotline 1-855-565-2017.
The Alaska Senior In-Home (SIH) Services Program is financed by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Community Based Grants Units, and Senior and Disabilities Services Home. It offers free dental and nursing support for elderly Alaska residents who are suffering from limited mental or physical diseases and having financial hardship. To learn about complimentary or affordable dental treatments and services, peruse Dental Grants in Alaska. Those who already receive Medicaid assistance are already qualified. In addition to health assistance, it offers Activities of Daily Livings (ADLs) and Instrumental of Daily Living (IADLs) including bathing, dressing, food preparation, eating, making shopping, laundry, chopping wood, hauling water, and house cleaning. These are special additional services that are determined based on the applicant’s case. Seniors must be at 60 or over to make an appeal for these benefits. To learn more about its comprehensive services, please click the link http://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/Pages/hcb/hcb.aspx or make a call at 800 478 9996.
Seniors over the age of 65 may be eligible to get several benefits for dental care. The Donated Dental Services (DDS) is a volunteer service of various dentists and dental clinics in the state who provide free or heavily subsidized dental care to seniors. Laboratory work, tests and comprehensive treatment care available at little or no cost, depending on the senior’s ability to pay. Seniors who are able are encouraged to pay some amount, a stipend. Otherwise, it is free dental care for the beneficiary. More information on DDS is available at https://dentallifeline.org/alaska. Seniors can also take advantage of online resources like searching for free or low-cost clinics near them.
Charities and Organizations
In Alaska, senior residents of Kenai can get assistance form the Kenai Senior Center. The center is focused on improving the quality of life for seniors by providing essential services to those in need. Kenai Senior Center provides free food (onsite or home delivered), shopping assistance, housing support, transportation assistance, employment assistance, etc. Socialization is also offered, in form of Arts/Crafts meeting, music classes and even exercise activities to help maintain fitness and good health. Further details on the Kenai Senior Center can be found on their website https://www.kenai.city/senior-services/page/senior-center.
Fairbanks resident can get various forms of assistance from the Fairbanks Senior Center. This is an agency sponsored by United Way which renders services like food provision through its Meals on Wheels program. This program provides food for homebound seniors over the age of 60. Transportation services are available to help those who need to go to medical appointments. Seniors requiring a helping hand around their home can apply for the Homemaker service, or the Silver Squad for socialization. Fairbanks Senior Center also offers minor home modification services to help make the homes of seniors more comfortable and suitable for their use. For further details on Fairbanks Senior Center, visit https://fairbanksseniorcenter.org/ or call 907 452 1735.
Several other organizations providing similar assistance for Alaska seniors include New Neighbors Inc of Anchorage, Wasilla Area Seniors Inc, etc.
Seniors in need of free food and nutritional assistance can take advantage of the Alaska Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program provides feeding assistance to residents who cannot afford healthy nutritious meals. Monthly benefits provided varies but is dependent on income level and household size. To be eligible, seniors must have an income that is not more than 130% of the Alaska poverty standard. The utilization of the Alaska Federal Poverty Level calculator can help you determine whether your household is residing below the poverty line. The SNAP benefits are distributed to seniors via the Alaska Quest card, a debit card which can be used to purchase approved food items from stores across the state. Seniors living in rural areas may be allocated higher benefits and may use the funds to purchase hunting or fishing supplies, rather than food. This is done to encourage rural hunters who can catch game and feed off it. Seniors over the age of 60 are not required to register for a work placement program to qualify for SNAP benefits. For more details, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/SNAP/default.aspx.
The state also offers the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). This provides low-income seniors with checks which they can use to purchase fruits, vegetables, honey and other fresh products at approved farms and roadside farms. Each senior can get up to $35 in checks for the purchase of these items. The program is open to seniors who are 60 years or older, with an income below 185% of the federal poverty level. The SFMNP also provides nutritional information on the food items as well as tips on storage and preparation. Seniors can go to https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/nutri/fmnp/fmnpsenior.aspx for further information on the program.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is targeted at seniors, with the goals of improving their health through the provision of commodity foods. These foods are provided as a dietary supplement. Application information can be accessed at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/nutri/csfp/default.aspx.
Several charity organizations offer transportation assistance for seniors, usually with a focus on getting them to medical appointments or grocery stores to purchase essential supplies. Apart from these, door to door transportation services is also available for seniors living in certain Southeast Alaskan communities. These services are provided by Southeast Senior Services and cater for seniors who reside in Angoon, Craig, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Ketchikan, Klawock, Klukwan, Saxman, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell, and Yakutat. The vehicles are also specially modified to allow access for disabled seniors. For more details, visit https://www.ccsak.org/transportation-services.html.
Help with Utility Bills
Seniors in Alaska may be eligible for assistance with their heating bills. This is provided through the Heating Assistance Program (HAP), Alaska’s version of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Seniors with income below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines can apply for assistance from this program. The funds are sent directly to the power vendor who then applies the credit to the senior’s account. Eligible seniors can apply for this program every year to meet their annual heating expenses. Asides from heating costs, HAP also covers electric bills for the household. Interested seniors can visit http://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/e-forms/pdf/HAP-01.pdf to fill the application form. Seniors who reside in subsidized apartments with heating, but who still require gas for cooking can apply for Subsidized Rental Housing Utility Deposit (SRHUD). This is a component of the Heating Assistance Program. However, unlike the HAP applications which open on October 1, SHRUD applications are open all year round. An application form can be filled at http://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/e-forms/pdf/HAP-01.pdf. Seniors with overdue bills can also apply for emergency processing.
The General Relief Assistance (GRA) program is another means by which seniors can get help with paying for their utility bills. GRA is a state-funded program that provides up to $120 per senior to cover costs of bills. This is usually meant as a last resort option to help settle urgent bills in the face of possible utility shut-off. Seniors can visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/gra/default.aspx for more information on the program.
Seniors can also turn to various charity organizations in the state to request assistance with payment of their utility bills.
Grants for Senior Veterans
Veterans who reside in Alaska can apply for services from the department of Veteran Affairs. Health care services are available to cater for the medical needs of veterans. The state has a VA Medical Center located at Anchorage where veterans can get doctors’ appointments, prescription medication for conditions, medical checkups and more. Other clinic locations can be found using the address directory at https://www.va.gov/alaska-health-care/locations/. Pension benefits are also available and provide direct financial relief to eligible veterans. The money received can be used to settle various expenses as required.
Veterans can get housing assistance through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). This program is aimed at provided affordable housing veterans so that they don’t end up homeless or remain homeless if already displaced. Interested veterans can visit https://www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf/index.html to get assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What makes Alaska unique in terms of assistance for seniors? A: Alaska’s vast geography and extreme weather conditions pose unique challenges for its residents, especially seniors. The state has tailored its assistance programs, such as the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend and the Heating Assistance Program, to address these challenges and ensure seniors can live comfortably.
Q: How does the cost of living in Alaska affect seniors, and what assistance is available? A: The cost of living in Alaska is higher than in many other states, especially in remote areas. To mitigate this, the state offers financial assistance through programs like the Senior Benefits Program and the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, helping seniors afford essentials like food, heating, and healthcare.
Q: Are there any programs in Alaska that support seniors living in rural or remote areas? A: Yes, programs like the Medicaid Waiver for Home and Community-Based Services are particularly important in Alaska, providing care in homes or community settings. Additionally, the AHFC offers housing assistance tailored to seniors, including those in rural areas, ensuring they have access to affordable housing solutions.
Q: What health care assistance is available for seniors in Alaska? A: Apart from Medicare, Alaska provides additional health care assistance through the Senior Benefits Program and Medicaid waivers, which offer supplemental financial aid and services like personal care, transportation, and home modifications to meet the health needs of seniors.
Q: How can seniors in Alaska access these assistance programs? A: Seniors in Alaska can access these programs through various state websites, local agencies, or by contacting the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Each program has its own application process and eligibility criteria, detailed on their respective websites.
By understanding the specific needs and challenges faced by seniors in Alaska, these FAQs aim to direct them towards the most relevant and helpful resources, ensuring they can navigate their golden years with the support and dignity they deserve.