Alabama is one of the most convenient states for seniors to live in. This is due to the availability of several care programs, low tax rates and one of the lowest costs of living in the entire United States. State and charity sponsored programs help ease the burdens of the elderly residents of Alabama, with some programs being available from the age of 55 years.
State Resources for Seniors
Seniors resident in Alabama can take advantage of programs offered by the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS). This is the state agency in charge of administering programs for senior citizens. ADSS aims to promote independence of elderly residents by providing comprehensive services to boost quality of life. Services provided by the ADSS include provision of food, medical waivers, insurance counseling, legal aid for seniors, etc. More information on the activities of ADSS can be found at https://alabamaageline.gov/.
The Alabama department of Public Health through the Oral Health Branch takes measures to sensitize people on the importance of good oral health. Information campaigns are also held to create awareness of dental care programs available in the state. Several dental care providers exist in Alabama, some of which provide free or discounted dental care to seniors in the state. Free charitable clinics located in Alabama include Alabama Free Clinic, Community of Hope Health Clinic, Good Samaritan Clinic, etc. A full directory of these clinics, along with phone numbers and addresses is available at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/oralhealthcoalition/assets/Dental%20Clinic%20Listing%20-%20One%20document.pdf.
There are also dental insurance providers with low-cost plans that can cover dental expenses whenever the need arises. Some providers offer plans with prices starting from $119.95 per year. A list of dental insurance providers for seniors in Alabama can be found at https://medicarewire.com/dental-insurance/state/alabama/.
Another useful resource for seniors is hosted by Hampton Cove and can be accessed at https://hamptoncove.dentalassociatesnearme.com/general-dentist/hello-world/.
Seniors in Alabama can benefit from Medicare Health Insurance. This provides coverage at different levels, ranging from hospital insurance to prescription drug coverage. Certain doctor services are also covered by the insurance. There is also an Elderly Waiver program for seniors who are at risk for nursing facility placement. Care plans are developed based on individual medical needs and may include personal care, companion services, homemaker, etc. This is made possible by the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) which acts as the operating agency for various Medicaid Waiver Programs.
The Alabama Medicaid Agency has several programs designed to suit the elderly residents of the state. Home and Community Waivers are available for seniors who live in the community and have certain special medical needs. There are also waivers for seniors who no longer receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Seniors who reside in nursing homes or who are in hospital facilities may qualify for institutional care. Further details on the programs can be gotten from https://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/3.0_Apply/3.2_Qualifying/3.2.5_Medicaid_EandD.aspx.
Charities and Organizations
There are several charities and nonprofits in Alabama that offer assistance to seniors in the state. Episcopal Place is a charity that offers housing to seniors over the age of 62 with annual income of less than $49,960. Subsidized low-income housing is provided to meet housing needs, rent is usually set at 30% of the monthly income. Residents can also get cable television for a monthly fee of $15. Details of Episcopal Place, along with rental offerings and application forms can be gotten from https://www.episcopalplace.org/livewithus. Other charities include Ruth and Naomi Senior Outreach, Henry County Health Care Authority, etc.
While the ADSS does not offer direct financial assistance, seniors who are age 55 or older can get a job to support themselves through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This program allows participants to remain gainfully employed, contribute to society and earn enough money for financial self-sufficiency. Job training is provided to develop relevant skills and then the seniors are placed in unsubsidized jobs where they can work about 20hours a week. The wages paid are the level of federal, state, or local minimum wage (whichever is highest). This opportunity is only available to unemployed seniors or those with earnings less that 125% of the federal poverty level. The Alabama Ageline handbook at https://alabamaageline.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Guide-to-services-DD-3.15.22-web.pdf contains some information on this program.
The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham also provides some financial respite to seniors by assisting with utility bills. This is done through the Project SHARE, in collaboration with Alabama Power and the rural electric cooperatives. The aim is to provide emergency assistance to seniors especially in winter (for heating) and in summer (for cooling). Seniors in need of assistance can call the Salvation Army on 205 328 2420.
Seniors over the age of 65 may also be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is money paid monthly to assist with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The amount paid to each beneficiary varies and is determined by financial conditions. Details are available at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/?tl=0%2C1#a3.
Seniors in Alabama who are in need of food assistance can register under the Alabama Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP). This is one of the key programs of the Department of Senior Services and is focused on providing nutritious meals to meet the dietary needs of seniors in the state. Meals are distributed to seniors living in group care facilities, and even to those living at home. Some arrangements allow for curbside pickup as well. With a program managed by dieticians, nutrition is the focus, ensuring that everyone receives proper nutrition to help them stay healthy. Participants must be at least 60 years old to be eligible for this program. More details on the Alabama ENP are available at https://alabamaageline.gov/elderly-nutrition-program/.
Low-income senior residents of the state can also apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Formerly known as food stamps, this program provides financial assistance in the form of a debit card which can be used to buy food. The debit card, known as Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) is reloaded with funds each month and can be used to purchase certain nutritious food items. To apply for SNAP benefits seniors can register on the Department of Human Resources website at https://mydhr.alabama.gov/ and fill the application form available at https://mydhr.alabama.gov/content/forms/application-english.pdf.
The Salvation Army is a charity organization that also provides feeding assistance. The Huntsville Corps of the Salvation Army provides three meals a day to eligible seniors. This includes breakfast from 5:20am to 6:20am, lunch from noon to 1:00pm and dinner from 4:30pm to 5:20pm. Weekend and holiday lunches are also served, from 2:00pm till 4:00pm. At the Salvation Army’s Birmingham location, seniors can come in to select food items that they need. This gives some form of choice, rather than having to eat whatever is offered. The Montgomery Corps of the Salvation Army provides dinner every day, as well as lunch on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seniors with disabilities can also register ahead to have their meals delivered to them at home. Further details on the Salvation Army’s food assistance can be found at https://salvationarmyalm.org/highlighting-feeding-programs-in-alabama/.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides subsidized housing to residents via the Section 8 program. This is mainly targeted at those with low-income and genuine needs. Section 8 provides housing vouchers for residents, paying off part of their rent costs while they only have to pay a fraction of the original rent. The program is locally administered by the Public Housing Agencies (PHA) available in the state. A directory of PHAs in Alabama can be accessed at https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/PIH/documents/PHA_Contact_Report_AL.pdf. HUD recommends submitting applications to more than one PHA to increase chances of getting a voucher.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency also offers assistance to seniors living in the state. Housing assistance offered varies from temporary housing to the construction of Permanent Housing. Seniors who have their own homes can also get financial assistance to help with repairs. This usually covers repairs to damages caused by disasters. The repairs covered include septic systems, heating and air conditioning, utilities, structural repairs, etc. Further information on the program can be obtained from https://ema.alabama.gov/assistance-to-individuals-and-households/.
The state also provides rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama program. Senior can get up to 15months of rent payment settled, including future rent for up to three months at a time. Utility bills may also be settled with this assistance program. Seniors can apply by filling an online application available at https://hornellp-se.neighborlysoftware.com/ERAP-ALABAMA/participant.
Transport assistance is available for elderly residents of Alabama. This is usually structured to allow access to doctors’ appointments and shopping trips. One of the providers of transport assistance is Travelers Aid Birmingham. They can be contacted on their site www.travelersaidbirmingham.org or by calling 205 322 5426.
211 Connect also provides a tool for seniors to locate ride and transport programs close to them. This can be accessed at https://www.211connectsalabama.org/senior-ride-programs/.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal initiative put in place to help low-income residents settle energy and heating bills. In the state, LIHEAP is administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), in collaboration with supporting agencies like Alabama Power. Through the program, seniors can get financial assistance to pay for heating or cooling bills, electricity and energy related costs. Any senior eligible for SNAP or SSI is automatically eligible for LIHEAP assistance. In other cases, the income of the applicant must not exceed 150% of the federal poverty level. You can utilize the Alabama Federal Poverty Level (2023 Updated) calculator to assess whether your household income falls below the poverty threshold. Interested seniors can get help through their community action agencies, a directory of which can be found at https://adeca.alabama.gov/wp-content/uploads/LIHEAPRegionsMap.pdf. Additional information can be obtained from https://adeca.alabama.gov/liheap/.
Another utility assistance project is the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program. This is organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Community Services (HHS-OCS) and provides grants to seniors that would be unable to pay their water bills without assistance. LIHWAP grants help with the payment of water utility arrears and current bills. Emergency assistance is also available for seniors who have been disconnected or are about to be disconnected due to non-payment of water bills. The application process is similar to that of LIHEAP and the details can be found at https://adeca.alabama.gov/lihwap/.
The Salvation Army also offers Project SHARE which is designed to help pay for energy bills in the peak summer and winter months. Seniors can visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/birmingham/project-share/ for a list of contacts across the various counties of the state.
Assistance for Senior Veterans
Veterans in Alabama can get various forms of assistance from the department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Healthcare coverage can be obtained to help settle regular doctor’s visits, as well as specialist care and prescriptions. Pension payments are also available to veterans. These payments can serve as a form of income and help senior veterans meet some of their financial needs. Seniors who are military veterans can visit https://www.va.gov/ for a full list of services offered by the VA.
Feed Our Vets (FOV) is a charity organization that provides food assistance to veterans across the state. Food items are made available at pantries, which can be picked up for consumption by veterans in need. Veterans can visit http://feedourvets.squarespace.com/pantry to locate the FOV pantry nearest to them.
Priority Veteran is another program that supports veterans in the state. The program is offered by United Way of Central Alabama, with funding from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF). Through this program, housing assistance is provided to homeless veterans, as well those on the brink of homelessness. Utility bills can also be covered by the program, depending on need. For more information, visit https://www.priorityveteran.org/about-us/.