October 02, 2003
The governor directed the needs-based program be established to take the place of the bonus program, which was terminated effective this past August. Under the previous program, 18,000 of the state's estimated 44,000 seniors received a monthly check of between $100 and $250. However, the other 26,000 over the age of 65 did not recive any bonus payment. The previous program was based on date of birth criteria only, and did not take into account the personal wealth of an individual.
As a result, the new program provides funding for Alaskans in need of assistance who were not receiving any bonus payments. Of the 7,211 applicants who qualified for the new assistance program, 6,072 had received the Longevity Bonus and 1,139 had not.
The new program applies to all Alaskans over the age of 65 who qualify by meeting specific needs-based criteria. The program remains open for applications, and program managers expect more Alaskans to qualify. The program is funded by a federal grant through the end of June 2004.
"We are making a number of tough decisions necessary to provide a better tomorrow for all Alaskans," Murkowski said. "But we are not going to ignore basic responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to see that no senior in need is left without assistance."
The governor noted that Commissioner of Health and Social Services Joel Gilbertson made a tremendous effort to reach all Alaska seniors this summer to let them know about the state's new assistance program.
"We suspect that, as our senior population ages, more seniors will qualify for this program and we will work with the Legislature to identify a funding source to keep it going past the current cut-off date," the Governor said. Murkowski also said the state is assessing the adequacy of the monthly payment and other support provided for seniors in need, and evaluating whether adjustments are needed.
According to the news release,
currently, seniors who qualify for the Alaska Senior Assistance
Program may also be eligible for a variety of state- and federally-funded
programs designed to help seniors in need. These include Adult
Public Assistance, assisted living programs, food stamps, the
Pioneer Homes and other nursing homes, Medicaid and Medicare,
the senior citizens property tax exemption, free hunting and
fishing licenses, housing assistance, and others. Many of the
programs in the "Senior Safety Net" are open to all
Alaska seniors, regardless of income and asset levels.
Source of News Release: