Sun. Sep 15th, 2019

Insufficient Funds: Senior Alaskans Without Benefits in June

3 min read
senior Alaskans

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services suspended senior payments due to a lack of funding. Read on for more.

Alaskan Seniors Without Benefit Payments in June

The state of Alaska has been struggling with the budget arrangements for a long time, but at the end of this fiscal year they discovered new trouble — there are not enough funds for the Senior Benefits Program.

Unfortunately, the suspension of payments happened to the recipients of the state’s Senior Benefits Program and the reduction of their funds is significant, since this payment system was established to provide a secure income for the seniors with lower monthly profits, and over 11,000 seniors statewide are the recipients of these payments.

Shawnda O’Brien, public assistance director at the Senior Benefits Program, stated that this program is divided into three payment tiers, and those levels are determined based on the size of the senior’s income. Cash payments are sorted into three tiers: $76, $175, and $250 each month, depending on their annual income.

The ones with the highest monthly income will receive $76 on a monthly basis; however, they will not be eligible for the payments that were supposed to happen in May and June.

O’Brien added that the Department of Health and Social Services does their best to make the changes to the budget plan as smoothly as possible; however, the seniors could face serious trouble if they don’t receive their payments for the next two months.

At this time, the benefits for the seniors who receive $175 and $250 per month will not go through any changes so that they can be looking forward to their payments scheduled for May and June.

The Senior Benefits Program was implemented during 2007, and the whole idea is to divide senior annual incomes to three tiers and regulate their monthly incomes with these benefits.

The poverty level changes every year, so the Walker Administration is obligated to make changes to the system at the end of every fiscal year.

The Dunleavy Administration needed to make enormous budget cuts since the program is lacking over $800,000 for 2019, and due to the way the program was initially structured — the program tries to close a $1.6 billion gap.

Mary-Alice Knotts and her husband Allen who are relying on this help, made a formal complaint to Moira Pyhala, the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Food Bank of Alaska, in which they stated that they were not satisfied with the terms at the assisted living facilities and that she and her husband decided to move back in to their old home in Alaska.

However, since the state is no longer capable of sustaining a regular payment system, the daily routine of her and her husband is seriously jeopardized without senior benefits in June.

They both expressed their concerns to Moira Pyhala and lastly added that they have trouble compensating their everyday needs as a result of losing that $76 two months in a row.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services haven’t made any formal statements regarding this matter, but according to Shwanda O’Brien, the Senior Benefits Program will hopefully continue with regular payments to seniors starting from July 2019.

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