Help for Seniors in Alaska
Seniors in Alaska have several support programs to choose from. While the state may not be the cheapest to live in, there are many programs which offer considerable financial assistance to seniors. The state government sponsors and administers many of these programs directly, while some are sponsored by the government but administered by nonprofit organizations. There are also a variety of charities and volunteer organizations that try to make life better for seniors in the 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.
Dental Grants and Benefits
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 resources like https://www.freedentalcare.us/st/alaska to find free or low-cost dental clinics around them. This is a comprehensive repository of relevant clinics in the state sorted by location so that seniors can find the closest one to them.
Low-income seniors in Alaska may be eligible for Medicaid coverage. The program provides health coverage for low-income residents who would be unable to afford medical care. Income eligibility can be checked online at http://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/POLICY/PDF/Medicaid_standards.pdf. The program is administered by the Division of Health Care Services (DHCS), which determines how much coverage is provided. DHCS staff may also provide case-by-case eligibility assessments for seniors. Waivers provided can sometimes cover assistance for seniors who require caregivers. To apply, fill the application form at https://dpaweb.hss.state.ak.us/e-forms/pdf/GEN-50C.pdf.
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.
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.
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 (2023 Updated) 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.
Housing Assistance and Home Repair Grants
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation has several grant programs to help seniors get safe and affordable housing. While some grants are issued to organizations that provide low-cost housing, individuals may also get grants to help them cover various costs in their homes. This includes modifications for special needs, weather insulation, home purchase, etc. Details are available at https://www.ahfc.us/pros/grants.
Alaska also offer Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants, also known as Section 504 Home Repair Program. The aim to provide financial assistance which can be used to pay for home repairs, modifications, improvements, etc. Seniors can get a grant to help them get rid of items that pose a risk to their health and safety. Only seniors who are at least 62 years old are eligible for grants, younger beneficiaries are given loans. The maximum grant amount is $10,000. For more information on the program, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-programs/single-family-housing-repair-loans-grants/ak.
A directory of other housing programs that seniors can benefit from is available at https://www.ahfc.us/tenants/rental-programs.
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.
Other grants available for veterans can be found at https://www.usgrants.org/veteran-grants.htm.