Seniors Outreach - November 21, 2018

As many more folks are retiring (baby boomers), one of the areas that continues to be a challenge is to have a connection made to the Alberta Seniors Supports by age 65. Perhaps a review would be helpful.

Firstly, what form does one complete? There is the provincial application for Alberta Seniors Financial Assistance. This provides for a number of supports which fall under this form.

Completing the Form:

1. When one turns 64 years of age, REGARDLESS OF INCOME, prepare to apply for your Alberta Seniors Financial Assistance (probably best to apply at least 4-6 months ahead of your 65th birthday).

2. The application is a 5 page form which provides Alberta Seniors with:

a. your basic personal information (name/home address/mailing address) and that of your spouse/Personal Health Care Numbers/Social Insurance Numbers

b. both spouses home owner/renter status

c. an indication whether both you and your spouse have applied for your Old Age Security (Federal Government Pension) and have had acknowledgement whether or not both of you will receive it (Letters of Entitlement) or have applied for it

d. both of your Direct Deposit information or VOID cheques to indicate the bank account(s) that you both wish to have the monies directly deposited to

e. signatures/date of signing from both you and your spouse

f. copies of your birth certificates or passports (passports often work best if possible)

This form, when completed can be faxed in to Alberta Seniors.

Secondly, what does this form provide for? There are six things that one may be eligible for:

1. Alberta Seniors Benefits – a monthly support payment (often provided to help with one’s living costs) – dependent upon income from the income tax year).

2. Special Needs Assistance - The maximum assistance available in a benefit year is $5000. The amount of benefit you may be eligible to receive is determined by:

• your accommodation category

• your marital/cohabitation status

• your income – combined with your spouse/partner’s income

In general, a single senior with a total annual income of $27,690 or less, or a senior couple with a total combined annual income of $44,965 or less, may be eligible to receive assistance.

Your (and your spouse/partner’s) total income, line 150 of your previous year’s income tax return(s), is used to determine your eligibility for the current year’s benefits.

Eligible items are funded at primary or secondary income levels

You need to find out about the special needs supports to request and have them sent in or faxed in whenever they are accessed for reimbursement under this assistance part of the program.

3 & 4. Optical & Dental Support – Dependent upon Financial Thresholds for a Single Senior Income under $31,675 and a Senior Couple under $63,350. The lower income level for each would provide up to $5000 for 5 years for Dental Support per person and $230 for 3 years for Optical Support per person.

5) Seniors Home Adaptation & Repair Program (SHARP) has become the major support for upkeep of home repairs, however it is a LOAN program. As such this loan goes against the equity in one’s home (must maintain 25% equity in the home) and has a SIMPLE interest which is calculated at market rate (reviewed each April and October). The loan may be repaid as one is able to do so, or repaid in installments, but MUST be repaid when the borrower moves or sells the home.

6) Property Tax Deferral Program Loan - The government pays the property taxes for the eligible homeowner. The loan does not have to be repaid until the property is sold, or sooner if they choose. [Source: https://www.alberta.ca/seniors-special-needs-assistance.aspx]

Finally, what does one do about a Blue Cross Coverage for Seniors Card? One should, in Kneehill County, visit a vetted Provincial Registry (e.g. Adam B. Young Insurance, Three Hills) with your birth certificate or passport and your picture ID – up to a month before your 65th birthday – to fill out a application form for this Blue Cross card and sign off on it. Usually, you would receive your Blue Cross Coverage for Seniors Card approximately 2-3 weeks after applying.

Please keep in contact with Alberta Supports to change addresses, phone numbers or other important contact information as it changes. If this is not done, you could have your file closed and not be able to access any of the provincial supports.

Do not hesitate to contact and make an appointment at Seniors Outreach for help with this support program, amongst others, as you become a senior in Alberta and to request reimbursements for items if you meet the financial thresholds for assistance.

Further activities: Contact Seniors Outreach at 403-443-2555 (1-888-443-2555 from Carbon)

November Bus Trips:

a, Thursday, November 22, 2018 – Red Deer Bus Trip for shopping and attendance at the “Festival of Trees” (including a Seniors Appreciation Tea)

b. Wednesday, November 28, 2018 – Rosebud Theatre Trip: “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol”.

Gifts for Grandparents:

Seniors Outreach continues to partner with others to bring about the GIFTS FOR GRANDPARENTS program thoughout Kneehill County. Please join us in giving to this worthwhile program for those seniors who do not have great financial resources, are not immediately connected to family or who do not have family to celebrate with at Christmas.

We will be collecting donations of goods until 12:00 p.m., Monday, December 10, 2018. After this the donated items will be picked up, gift bags will be filled and cards attached. The gifts will then be distributed during the week before Christmas.

Note: Financial support may be provided until December 20, 2018 for this year’s program Please be supportive.