Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors

Eligible seniors can get help covering the cost of basic dental and optical services.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs you must:

  • be 65 years of age or older
  • be an Alberta resident and have resided in Alberta for at least 3 months before applying
  • be a Canadian citizen or admitted to Canada for permanent residence (landed immigrant)
  • be approved to receive Seniors Financial Assistance programs
  • have an annual income within the limits allowed by the programs

Read the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors brochure for more information.

Income

Eligibility for the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs is determined by a senior’s total income as reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in the previous tax year.

"Total income" means the total income as defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada) and refers to line 15000 of an Albertan’s federal tax return.

For the 2024-25 benefit year (July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025), your 2023 total income will be used to determine your eligibility. Table 1 outlines the total income guidelines for these programs and benefits available.

Table 1. Marital status, income and benefits

 Coverage*No coverage
Single senior$0 to $33,410Over $33,410
Senior couple$0 to $66,820Over $66,820

*More information on dental and optical coverage available, see below.

To remain enrolled in the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs, you must have an active file with the Alberta Seniors Benefit program.

Use the Seniors Benefit Estimator to see if you are eligible for benefits.

How to apply

In order to determine your eligibility for the Dental and Optical Assistance programs, you must first apply for Seniors Financial Assistance programs.

If you have already submitted the Seniors Financial Assistance application form, there is no need to submit the application again.

Dental assistance

Eligible seniors are provided up to a maximum of $5,000 of coverage every 5 years for select dental services and procedures that maintain a reasonable level of dental health. When you are first enrolled into the program, the 5-year period will begin on the date of your first dental service funded under this program.

Every 5 years, your $5,000 of funding is renewed. If you do not use the full $5,000 in this time period, the remaining amount will not carry over into the next 5-year period.

Dental coverage is based on the Dental Assistance for Seniors Program Fee Schedule, which establishes both the maximum fee amount and frequency of coverage for eligible services.

  • If you are eligible for coverage, your funding will cover the maximum fee amount(s) for eligible procedure(s) found within the fee schedule. Coverage may not cover the full fees charged by Alberta dental providers.

Prior to receiving a dental service or procedure, it is important to ask your dental provider to submit a pre-authorization (cost estimate) to Alberta Blue Cross. This step will ensure the dental service and/or procedure is an eligible benefit covered by the program and will determine how much you will have to pay.

Basic dental services covered under this program include:

  • diagnostic services (examinations and x-rays)
  • preventive services (polishing and scaling)
  • restorative services (fillings, trauma, pain control)
  • extractions (simple and complicated)
  • root canals (endodontics)
  • procedures relating to gum disease (periodontics, root planing)
  • dentures (removable prosthodontics, basic full and partial dentures)

Dental services and procedures not found in the fee schedule and not covered under this program include:

  • dental crowns
  • fixed dental bridges
  • braces and orthodontics
  • dental implants
  • fluoride treatment
  • teeth bleaching and cosmetic procedures
  • inlays (gold or gems)

Dental providers may provide a dental service that is not an eligible benefit, however, this service will not be covered by the Dental Assistance for Seniors Program.

It is important to note the Dental Assistance for Seniors program does not provide full coverage of the fees charged by Alberta dental providers.

See the example below.

Table 2. A typical annual check-up with cleaning for a senior with coverage under the Dental Assistance for Seniors program

Dental procedure2024 Alberta Dental Fee Guide rates*Maximum program fee schedule ratesSenior’s portion
Senior's portion total$67.97
Recall exam$73.85$62.94$10.91
Two bitewing radiographs$54.60$43.00$11.60
Two units scaling$160.60$126.68$33.92
One unit polishing$71.54$60.00$11.54

*These rates are found within the 2024 Alberta Dental Fee Guide. For more information on the Alberta Dental Association’s General Dentist Fee Guide rates, visit: Alberta Dental Association.

Frequency limitations

Based on the Dental Assistance for Seniors Program Fee Schedule, frequency limitations may apply for specific dental services.

Dental providers may choose to perform dental services more frequently than permitted under the program. The senior is responsible for the cost of these services if they choose to proceed.

Out-of-province or out-of-country claims

All dental services and procedures supported by this program must be completed by a dental provider located within Alberta.

Optical assistance

Eligible seniors are provided up to a maximum of $230 every 3 years toward the purchase of prescription eyeglasses. When you first enroll into the program, the 3-year period of coverage will begin on the date that you receive the first funded optical service under this program.

Every 3 years, your optical funding is renewed. If you do not use the full funding in this time period, the remaining amount will not carry over into the next 3-year period.

  • If you are eligible for coverage, you will receive up to a maximum of $230 of optical funding.

Optical funding covered under this program includes:

  • prescription eyeglasses
  • prescription sunglasses
  • prescription lenses (including contact lenses)
  • frames
  • eyeglass repairs

Optical services not covered include:

  • eye exams*
  • eye surgery
  • lenses for cataract surgery
  • accessories
  • magnifying devices
  • eye medication
  • non-prescription sunglasses

*Note: Seniors 65 years and older are eligible for one eye exam per benefit year (July 1 to June 30) through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). For more information, review services covered under the AHCIP.

Frequency limitation

If you purchase prescription eyeglasses within the 3-year period and you do not use your full funding at that time, you can use the remaining funds before the 3-year period ends.

Cataract surgery

Assistance with an additional set of eyeglasses within the same 3-year period may be provided to an eligible senior when they had cataract surgery that led to a change in prescription.

Read Cataract surgery claims below for more information.

How to submit a claim

The Alberta government has contracted Alberta Blue Cross as the benefits administrator for the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs. Alberta Blue Cross can answer questions related to your coverage, how to submit a claim, or questions related to payment. Contact information is below.

Step 1: Talk to your health service provider when visiting

When visiting a dental or optical provider, present your Alberta health card and inform the service provider that you are a senior enrolled in the Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors programs.

The service provider can confirm your eligibility and level of coverage at the time of your appointment by submitting a pre-authorization to Alberta Blue Cross.

Step 2: Payment for services

Direct billing available

Dental or optical offices may bill Alberta Blue Cross directly for services provided to you. If your service provider uses direct billing, you will only be required to pay any outstanding amount not covered by the program.

If your dental or optical provider submits a claim directly to Alberta Blue Cross, skip Step 3.

Direct billing not available

Dental or optical offices may not bill Alberta Blue Cross directly for services provided to you. If this occurs, you will be required to pay the full balance and submit your receipts for reimbursement. You or your service provider must also complete sections of a reimbursement form.

If your dental or optical provider does not submit claims directly to Alberta Blue Cross, go to Step 3 below.

Step 3: Submit a reimbursement claim

All dental and optical claims must be submitted within 12 months of an expense being incurred. If you do not submit the claim within 12 months, reimbursement will not be provided.

You can submit the dental or optical claim online directly to Alberta Blue Cross after creating an online account through Alberta Blue Cross' Member site. The online account will track your remaining dental or optical funding, if a previous claim has been paid, and allow you to update your address or banking information.

You can also request a reimbursement claim form from your provider or from Alberta Blue Cross for your optical claim or dental claim. Ensure the claim form is complete and includes your personal health number.

Cataract surgery claims

If you had cataract surgery after receiving funding within the same 3-year period and there is a change in your prescription, you may be eligible for additional funding. To be eligible for this additional funding, you must have a medical note confirming the date of your cataract surgery.

Your optical provider can submit this claim, along with the medical note, on your behalf directly to Alberta Blue Cross. The optical provider must enter the confirmed date of cataract surgery and upload documentation confirming your cataract surgery.

Reviews and exceptions

Program income eligibility reviews and exceptions

To request an explanation of the income information used to determine your eligibility for the program, contact the Alberta Seniors Benefit program via:

Alberta Support Contact Centre
Hours: 7:30 am to 8 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 1-877-644-9992

Dental or optical claim reviews

If you have questions regarding the outcome of a dental or optical claim, the fee amount paid by the program or why a dental or optical service was not approved, contact:

Alberta Blue Cross
Phone: 1-800-661-6995

Dental claim exceptions

Your dental provider may submit an exception review on your behalf for eligible benefits. Refer to Appendix D in the Dental Assistance for Seniors Program Policy Manual for information on the exception review process and the criteria to submit a request.

All eligible requests are reviewed by Alberta Blue Cross. The exception request must include the necessary documentation, medical rationale, and diagnostic information.

Note: Dental services not listed in the dental fee schedule that are provided to a senior before the request is reviewed by Alberta Blue Cross will not be funded.

Each request is reviewed on an individual basis, taking into consideration the eligible dental options available, the medical necessity of the requested treatment, the overall oral condition of the mouth and all pre-existing medical conditions. The information submitted will be used to ensure the proposed dental exception is the most cost-effective service and sustainable for a prolonged period.

You and your dental provider will receive a response from Alberta Blue Cross once a decision has been reached. If you have questions regarding the outcome of a dental exception, contact your dental provider.

Optical claim exceptions

If your questions are not resolved after calling Alberta Blue Cross, or you are requesting exception coverage for an optical service that was not approved or is not an eligible benefit, you can request a review of your optical claim by writing to the Optical Assistance for Seniors program:

Optical Assistance for Seniors
PO Box 3100 Stn Main
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W3

The program will review your written request and respond by letter.