Rep. Ortiz commits to supporting extension of senior citizen benefits

As your representative in the Alaska Legislature, I have been and will continue to support legislation that advocates for our growing senior citizen population. That’s why I am proud to cosponsor House Bill 242 which, if passed, will extend the Alaska Senior Benefits Payment Program until June 2034.

Alaska has a robust history of supporting its senior population, with the first efforts to help our seniors dating back to 1915. The territorial Legislature’s approval of the old-age bonus program marked the beginning of decades of evolution in assisting Alaska’s elderly residents.

In 1972, Alaska introduced the longevity bonus program amid burgeoning oil wealth. Initially encouraging older Alaskans to remain in the state, the program commenced with a $100 monthly payment for seniors residing in Alaska for at least 25 years. Over the years, the program underwent various modifications, including a court-mandated adjustment allowing seniors with just one year of residency to qualify.

Transitioning to a needs-based approach in 2003 as the Senior Assistance Program and evolving into the Senior Care Program in 2004, these initiatives built upon the foundation laid by the Senior Assistance Program. With the conclusion of Senior Care in 2007, the Alaska Senior Benefits Program emerged.

Operating with income-based eligibility, it provides three payment levels tied to the federal poverty guidelines for Alaska. Despite facing budget challenges and caseload increases, the program has demonstrated resilience, adapting to ensure financial assistance reaches seniors in need.

Alaska’s commitment to supporting its senior population has taken various forms, from the early 20th-century old-age bonus to the recent Alaska Senior Benefits Program. The state continues to evolve its approach to meeting the changing needs of its aging residents — individuals who have played a pivotal role in building and shaping Alaska.

Continuing this program is a testament to our dedication to assisting those who have contributed significantly to Alaska’s rich history.

Rep. Dan Ortiz


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/19/2024 08:30