Alaskans who receive $76 per month in senior benefits will not receive those benefits in May or June due to insufficient funding, the Department of Health and Social Services said on its website today. The state is coming to the end of the fiscal year and has run out of money for the program, which has been adding recipients year over year.
“At this time we anticipate no reduction in benefits to those individuals receiving $175 and $250 per month,” the website states.
The Division of Public Assistance has begun notifying recipients of this change. Those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will have their cases updated to allow for an increase in benefit as a result in the suspension of their Senior Benefits.
The Senior Benefits Program was established in 2007 and pays cash to Alaska seniors age 65 or older who have low to moderate income. Cash payments are $76, $175, or $250 each month, depending on income. The income guidelines are tied to the Alaska Federal Poverty Guidelines and change each year as the poverty level changes.
Those receiving $76 a month are in higher income brackets, with incomes of $27,300 per year (or $36,978 per married couple). The benefit schedule is published here.
The amount for that highest income bracket was $47 monthly until 2016, when the Walker Administration adjusted all of the payments to nearly double. The way the program is structured, if it runs out of funds, people in the higher income brackets get cut first.
The program is now short about $800,000. The Dunleavy Administration, in a cost-cutting move, is proposing eliminating the program altogether as it tries to close a $1.6 billion budget gap.