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If you’re a recently retired senior, or close to that point, you’ve undoubtedly spent some extra time contemplating your financial situation. It’s easy enough to collect income from a steady job when you’re young and fit, but when you enter your senior years, that’s no longer a possibility. You have to rely on alternative income streams to fund your retirement.
Wise financial planning, consistent saving, and sound investing can help you prepare for a comfortable retirement. There are also federal government benefits programs available, for example, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), and Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS), to complement your personal savings.
But not all seniors are fortunate enough to end up with a mountain of cash to support themselves in retirement. Sometimes, the additional income from federal government programs may still be insufficient to cover living expenses. As a result, the shortfall leaves them struggling to pay for essentials such as food, rent, and healthcare costs.
Luckily, there’s additional help available for seniors at the provincial level.
The Alberta Seniors Benefit Explained
The Alberta Seniors Benefit is a government assistance program that helps seniors cover the cost of living. The program pays a monthly benefit, which varies according to several factors.
How To Qualify For The Alberta Seniors Benefit?
To be approved for the Alberta Seniors Benefit, you will have to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Be 65 years age or older
- be a resident of Alberta for a minimum of three months
- Be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residence status (landed or sponsored immigrant)
- Receive OAS payments
There are also income requirements you must satisfy before being accepted. For the 2020-2021 year, the income threshold is $28,785 if you’re single. If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, the income threshold is $46,745. The program administrators will use the income you earned from the previous year to determine your eligibility and assign your monthly benefit amount. Keep in mind that these figures are guidelines rather than strict requirements.
Learn how to avoid OAS clawback.
Alberta Seniors Benefit Payment Dates
The Alberta Seniors Benefit program runs from July 1 to June 30 each year. Below is a table monthly payment schedule:
|January||Monday, January 25, 2021|
|February||Monday, February 22, 2021|
|March||Thursday, March 25, 2021|
|April||Monday, April 26, 2021|
|May||Tuesday, May 25, 2021|
|June||Thursday, June 24, 2021|
|July||Monday, July 26, 2021|
|August||Wednesday, August 25, 2021|
|September||Friday, September 24, 2021|
|October||Monday, October 25, 2021|
|November||Wednesday, November 24, 2021|
|December||Friday, December 17, 2021|
How To Calculate Your Senior Benefits
The amount of your monthly benefit is determined by the following factors:
- Your income from the previous calendar year and that of your spouse or partner
- Whether you’re collecting OAS payments
- Your accommodation type
- Your marital status
Below is an overview of the maximum benefit you’re entitled to receive as a single senior and a couple.
|Max annual benefit (single person)||*Phase out rate (single person)||Max annual benefit (couple)||*Phase out rate (couple)|
|Homeowner, renter, lodge resident||$3,431||0.1590 per dollar||$5,146||0.1594 per dollar|
|Long-term care or designated supportive living facility||$11,771||N/A||$15,202||N/A|
|Other residence categories||$2,390||0.1108 per dollar||$4,779||0.1481 per dollar|
Supplementary Accommodation Benefit
The Supplementary Accommodation Benefit provides financial support for seniors who live in a designated living or long-term care facility that charges monthly rental charges.
The amount you’re eligible to receive is calculated using the following variables:
- Your income from all sources and that of your spouse or partner
- The max monthly accommodation charge, as set by Alberta Health
- The monthly disposable income amount, currently set at $322
The Supplementary Accommodation Benefit and Alberta Seniors Benefit are combined into a single payment and issued monthly.
Check out these tax tips for low income earners.
Applying For The Alberta Seniors Benefit
Residents of Alberta looking to apply for the Alberta Seniors Benefit, should follow these three steps:
Complete the Seniors Financial Assistance application form. You may need several other forms to help complete your application:
- Income estimate form – submit this form if your income decreased from the amount stated in your most recent tax return and you’re applying for the program for the first time.
- Income information form – submit this form if you still haven’t filed your tax return for the prior year.
- Direct deposit form – attach a direct deposit form if you wish to receive payments via bank transfer.
- Undertaking to Administer Benefits and Certificate of Incapability – This document is for the senior’s trustee and doctor to complete.
- Authorization of Representative – This form is required if you want to permit an individual to represent you and look after your Alberta Seniors Benefit.
In addition to all relevant forms, you must provide at least one photocopied document that confirms your identity, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport.
Submit your application online on the Senior Financial Assistance portal, fax it to 780-422-5954, or send it via mail to:
Alberta Seniors and Housing, Seniors Financial Assistance
PO Box 3100
Get a senior chequing account to save money and take advantage of extra banking perks.
Other Financial Assistance Programs For Seniors In Alberta
There are a variety of other financial aid programs available for seniors, each designed to meet a specific need.
Special Needs Assistance For Seniors
This program offers a lump-sum payment to help cover the cost of health and personal supports, as well as appliances and furniture. The maximum amount you’re entitled to receive is $5,105 per benefit period (July 1 – June 30).
Need extra cash? Learn how you can get a loan using your RRSP.
Dental And Optical Assistance For Seniors
The Dental Assistance for Seniors program provides coverage for examinations, scaling, fillings, extractions, root canals and dentures. The maximum amount you can receive is $5,000 over five years.
The Optical Assistance for Seniors program offers coverage for prescription eyeglasses. The maximum amount payable is $230 over three years. Alberta Health pays for any necessary eye exams.
Coverage For Seniors
This program provides coverage for a wide variety of premium-free health-related products and services not covered under the Alberta Health care Insurance Plan (AHCIP):
- Home nursing care (maximum of $200 per family per year)
- Prescription drugs
- Clinical Psychologist (maximum of $300 per year)
- Chiropractor (maximum of $25 per visit and $200 per year)
- Diabetic supplies (maximum of $600 per year)
Are you living with a disability in Alberta? Then you may qualify for the Assured Income For The Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.
Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program
The Seniors Property Tax Deferral program enables seniors to defer all or a portion of their property taxes by taking on a low-interest home equity loan. The Government of Alberta covers the cost of the property taxes, issuing payment directly to the municipality.
You don’t have to repay the loan until you sell your home, though you have the option to settle it sooner. No monthly payments are required.
Seniors Home Adaptation And Repair Program
This program helps seniors finance home repairs and renovations for their personal property through a low-interest home equity loan. The maximum loan amount is $40,000.
You must repay the loan once you sell your home, or sooner if you wish. There are no monthly payment obligations.
When does the Alberta Seniors Benefit end?
Can I receive retroactive payments?
What if I disagree with the decision regarding my Alberta Seniors Benefit?
If the federal government retirement programs don’t provide nearly enough to supplement your savings, you should check out the Alberta Seniors Benefit and the many other financial aid programs offered by the Alberta government. Depending on your eligibility, you may gain access to enough funds to pay for essentials like rent, food, utility bills, and medical bills. The program may give you enough of an income boost that you’ll be able to enjoy your retirement years rather than dread them.
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