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Many Low Income Seniors Not Aware Of Senior Benefit Program

For the more than 10,000 Alaskans who count on the monthly Senior Benefits program, June 2011 is coming too soon.

June is when the monthly stipend for low income Alaskan seniors is due to sunset. But legislation introduced in the Alaska legislature this spring will extend the Senior Benefits program for another four years. Seniors with limited incomes receive between $125 and $250 dollars per month.

What concerns Ken Osterkamp, AARP Alaska State Director is are the thousands of eligible Alaskan seniors who aren’t even aware the program exists.

“The program could benefit even more low income seniors,” said Osterkamp.

An estimated 24,000 Alaskan are eligible for the program, but only 42 percent – or 10,000 – are currently enrolled in the program, which is due to expire at the end of June.

In a state where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average and where health care costs since 1982 have risen twice as fast as general inflation Alaska’s low income seniors need this program. Alaskan seniors should check income guidelines online. Three benefit amounts are offered from $125 to $250, based on gross annual income. Assets such as savings accounts are not taken into consideration.

“We can all help by asking seniors if they are aware of the program or if they have applied for the program,” said Osterkamp.”And Alaskans can urge their legislators to support the program as it makes its way through the Legislature this session.”

Locate your legislator online.