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Seniors in Alberta have access to several financial assistance programs including the:

  • Alberta Seniors Benefit
  • Special Needs Assistance for Seniors
  • Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors
  • Coverage for Seniors
  • Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program
  • Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program

These benefits are available to eligible seniors besides other federal government income sources such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Security.

What is the Alberta Seniors Benefit?

The Alberta Seniors Benefit is a financial assistance program that provides monthly payments to low-income seniors.

This benefit helps recipients to cover their living expenses and also includes a Supplementary Accommodation Benefit for seniors who live in designated supportive living or long-term care facilities.

Eligibility for the Alberta Seniors Benefit

To qualify for the Alberta Seniors Benefit, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at least 65 years old
  • Be a recipient of the Old Age Security (OAS), and
  • Have lived in Alberta for at least 3 months

In addition to the requirements above, you must also meet the income requirements. The income threshold for the 2020-2021 benefit year is a maximum of $28,785 for a single senior, and $46,745 for a couple.

Your income amount from the previous year is used to calculate your benefits for the current benefit year. The 2020 benefit year runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

Related: Guide to Retirement Income in Canada

How Much Can You Get in Alberta Seniors Benefit?

The maximum amount of Alberta Seniors Benefit you receive depends on your:

  • Income (combined with a spouse or partner, if applicable)
  • Type of accommodation
  • Marital status
  • Old Age Security eligibility

Maximum benefits payable for the July 2020 to July 2021 period are:

Types of residence
Maximum annual benefit (single senior)
Phase out rate (single)
Maximum annual benefit (senior couple)
Phase out rate (couple)
Homeowner, renter, lodge resident
$3,431
$0.16/dollar
$5,146
$0.16/dollar
Other residence types
$2,390
$0.11/dollar
$4,779
$0.15/dollar
Long-term care centre or designated supportive living facility
$11,771
N/A
$15,202
N/A

*The maximum amounts assume your income is $0 (not including OAS payments). For every dollar of eligible income, you lose 16 cents of benefits if you are a homeowner, for example.

The Supplementary Accommodation Benefit amount depends on your:

  • Personal income (combined with spouse or partner, if applicable)
  • The maximum monthly accommodation charge set by the Alberta government e.g. $2,120 per month for a private room (effective October 1, 2020)
  • A monthly disposable income amount of at least $322

Your income is assessed annually to determine your eligibility for financial assistance.

How To Apply for the Alberta Seniors Benefit

To apply, complete the Seniors Financial Assistance application form and submit it online.

You may also need to complete an income estimate, direct deposit request, authorization of representative, and other forms depending on your circumstances.

One copy of supporting documentation that confirms your date of birth should be attached and can include your passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, permanent resident card, or Alberta identification card.

Besides submitting your application via the online portal, you can also fax it to 780-422-5954 or mail it to Alberta Seniors and Housing, Seniors Financial Assistance, PO Box 3100, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4W3.

The application processing time is 16 weeks and you may apply for retroactive payments for up to 11 months..

If your application is unsuccessful, you can appeal the decision by writing a letter of appeal addressed to the Director and fax it to 780-422-5954.

If this does not resolve your issue, you can also request a final review by writing to the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Seniors Services Division.

For general inquiries relating to your application, contact the support centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992.

Your Seniors Financial Assistance application also assesses your eligibility for two other programs:

  • Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors
  • Special Needs Assistance for Seniors

Alberta Seniors Benefit payments stop following death or if you move permanently out of the province.

Alberta Seniors Benefit Payment Dates 2020

  • January 27, 2020
  • February 24, 2020
  • March 25, 2020
  • April 24, 2020
  • May 25, 2020
  • June 24, 2020
  • July 27, 2020
  • August 25, 2020
  • September 24, 2020
  • October 26, 2020
  • November 24, 2020
  • December 17, 2020

Related: Alberta Income Tax Brackets and Rates

Seniors Financial Assistance and Benefits in Alberta

Five additional sources of financial and health support are available to eligible seniors in Alberta.

1. Special Needs Assistance for Seniors

This benefit helps low-income seniors cover the cost of medical and personal supports. You may be eligible to apply if you meet the basic requirements for the Alberta Seniors benefit Program.

The maximum benefit payable per year is $5,105 and varies with your marital status, income, and accommodation type.

Recipients can receive assistance to fund primary or secondary items as follows:

Annual total income (single senior)
Annual total income (senior couple)
Funding level
$24,385 or less
$38,545 or less
Primary and secondary items
$24,386 to $28,785
$38,546 to $46,745
Primary items only
Over $28,785
Over $46,745
No funding

Appliances and furniture that are funded via the program include bed, dryer, washer, refrigerator, and stove. Your type of accommodation may limit what you can claim for.

Secondary appliance claims include microwave, television, and vacuum.

Health supports include a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, diabetic supplies (e.g. test strips, lancets, needles, antiseptic swabs), nutritional beverages, podiatry, and prescription costs.

Personal supports that are funded include bed bug treatment, celiac groceries, clothing, home clean-up, medical trips, medication administration fees, wigs, and more.

Secondary funding for personal support includes housekeeping, yard maintenance, and respite care.

You can submit a claim online and include a receipt or estimate of the cost. Receipts should not be older than 12 months and they may require medical notes to accompany some claims.

Expenses incurred before you turned 65 years are not eligible for funding. Learn more about the program here.

Related: Provincial Retirement Benefits for Seniors

2. Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors

Low-income seniors can get financial assistance to cover the cost of dental and optical services. The eligibility requirements for this benefit are similar to that of the Alberta Seniors benefit.

And, if you already applied for the senior’s financial assistance, you are automatically enrolled in the dental and optical assistance program, if eligible.

The maximum coverage you enjoy is based on your income and marital status:

Total annual income (single senior)
Total annual income (senior couple)
Dental benefits
Optical benefits
$28,785 or less
$57,570 or less
100% coverage of the fee*
Up to $230
$28,786 to $31,675
$57,571 to $63,350
10-99% of the fee
Up to $115
Over $31,675
Over $63,350
Not eligible
Not eligible

*Fees are listed within the Dental Assistance for Seniors Program Fee Schedule.

The dental coverage is up to a maximum of $5,000 every five years. Dental procedures include:

  • Diagnostic, preventive, and restorative services
  • Extraction
  • Root canals
  • Procedures relating to gum disease such as periodontics and root planing
  • Dentures

Bridges, crowns, braces, implants, teeth bleaching, fluoride treatment and inlays are not covered.

The maximum amount payable for optical services is $230 every three years. This average applies to lenses and frames for prescription eyeglasses.

You can contact the Alberta Dental Service Corporation (1-800-232-1997) to get a cost estimate for dental services and what your coverage is.

For optical services and cost estimates, contact Alberta Blue Cross (Edmonton: 780-498-8000; Calgary: 403-234-9666; Toll-free: 1-800-661-6995).

3. Coverage for Seniors

The Coverage for Seniors program is administered by Alberta Blue Cross and provides coverage for:

  • Prescription drugs (as listed in the Alberta Drug Benefit List)
  • Diabetic Supplies (up to $600 per year)
  • Ambulance services
  • Clinical psychological services (up to a maximum of $300 per family year)
  • Home nursing care (up to $200 per year)
  • Chiropractic services (up to a maximum of $200 per year)

This coverage is related to services that are not already covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP).

Related: Federal Retirement Benefits for Seniors

4. Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program (SHARP)

The Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program (SHARP) provides a low-interest home equity loan that senior homeowners can use to adapt, repair or renovate their home to make it safe.

SHARP provides a maximum loan of up to $40,000. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be at least 65 years or older and listed as the owner of the residence in a Land Titles Office
  • Have a total annual income of $75,000 or less and at least 25% equity in your home
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Have lived in Alberta for at least 3 months

Also, you cannot have a registered charge against your land title including a reverse mortgage, bankruptcy, or maintenance enforcement.

To apply, complete and sign the loan application and agreement form and mail it to the program at PO Box 1050 STN Main, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2M1.

The current interest rate on a SHARP loan is 2.45%. This rate is renewed every 6 months in April and October.

While you can pay off the loan at anytime, the principal and interest become immediately due if you sell the home, are no longer a registered owner, or it is no longer your primary residence.

SHARP loan applicants who do not qualify may be considered for a SHARP grant.

For inquiries about the Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program, call 1-877-644-9992 (toll-free).

5. Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program

This program allows eligible senior homeowners to defer all or part of their residential property taxes through a low-interest home equity loan.

You must apply for the loan at least 30 days before the residential property tax is due.

Applicants must be at least 65 years old and have a minimum of 25% equity in the residence.

To apply, complete a Seniors Property Tax Deferral application form.

Alberta Seniors Benefits – Future Changes in 2021

New applicants for the Alberta Seniors Benefits can expect some changes starting in July 2021.

It’s not yet clear what these changes are going to be. However, the government has noted that the eligibility criteria will change. Benefits for seniors who are already enrolled will remain the same.

The 2020 Budget reduced funding for Special Needs Assistance. Essential health items will continue to be funded while others will be reduced or eliminated.

Related: CPP Survivor and Death Benefits

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