Special Needs Assistance for Seniors

Seniors with low-income can get financial assistance to help afford the cost of appliances and specific health and personal supports.

On behalf of the Government of Alberta, Advanis is conducting phone surveys with recipients of the Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program. For more details on the survey, please read the Seniors Financial Assistance Surveys: Information for program recipients(PDF, 290 KB).

Important dates

The benefit year for the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program starts July 1 of one year and ends June 30 of the following year.

Eligibility

To be eligible for this program you must:

  • be 65 years of age or older
  • be an Alberta resident
  • be a Canadian citizen or have been lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence
  • meet financial eligibility criteria
  • are eligible to apply for and have submitted a Seniors Financial Assistance application

If you and/or your spouse have deferred receiving the Old Age Security pension, you are not eligible for Special Needs Assistance for Seniors.

Special Needs Assistance for Seniors does not provide assistance for individuals under 65 years of age, including spouses, dependent children and grandchildren. For information regarding supports for individuals under the age of 65 please visit the Ministry of Community and Social Services website.

Income levels for 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.

July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019

Marital status Annual total income Funding level
Single senior $23,290 or less Primary and secondary items
$23,291 to $27,690 Primary items only
Over $27,690 No funding
Senior couple $36,765 or less Primary and secondary items
$36,766 to $ 44,965 Primary items only
Over $44,965 No funding

Eligible items

There are 3 categories of special needs items under both the primary and secondary income thresholds, that may be funded:

  • appliances/furniture
  • health supports
  • personal supports

Primary funded items

Appliances/furniture

Only one of each funded appliance/furniture type is considered for either a single senior or senior couple in a lifetime. For example, you can only receive funding for a refrigerator one time from this program.

Additionally, you can only apply for funding for one appliance/furniture item for a single senior or senior couple per benefit year, regardless of whether the expense is a primary or secondary funded item. For example, you can receive funding for a bed or a television in one benefit year, not both. Some exceptions are allowed as noted in the table below.

Where you live also determines which appliance/furniture items you can claim:

  • homeowners and mobile homeowners: all appliances/furniture
  • renters: bed, microwave, television and vacuum
  • applicants living with and/or renting from family/friends: bed
  • long-term care: television
  • lodge and designated supportive living residents: bed and television

The following are maximum amounts. Repairs to funded appliances may also be considered.

Appliance Maximum Notes
Bed $500 Includes mattress and frame.
Dryer $400 You may apply for a washer and dryer together in the same benefit year.
Washer $500 You may apply for a washer and dryer together in the same benefit year.
Refrigerator $700 You may apply for a refrigerator and stove together in the same benefit year.
Stove $700 You may apply for a refrigerator and stove together in the same benefit year.

All maximum amounts include:

  • GST
  • delivery
  • removal of the old appliance
  • installation/hook-up
  • environmental fees

Health supports

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and supplies: maximum $1,600 (once every 5 years) for a medically required CPAP. $200 per year maximum for supplies in any subsequent benefit year.

To apply for funding, you must provide:

  • a copy of the Level 1 Sleep Assessment Polysomnogram
  • a prescription from physician with fixed pressure setting
  • a receipt or estimate for a CPAP machine
  • a copy of a Level 3 sleep test if your Level 1 test is 5 years or older
  • a current 3 to 4 week compliance report from your current machine may be required

Diabetic supplies: Funding is provided based on the control method of your diabetes.

  • Diabetics who control their diabetes through:
    • diet/exercise – maximum funding is $365 per year
    • oral medications – maximum funding is $1,095 per year
    • insulin – maximum funding is $1,225 per year
  • You must provide a receipt or a recent 12-month prescription printout from your pharmacist showing the diabetic supplies purchased. Information regarding the diabetes management method (oral medications, insulin, diet and exercise) is also required.
  • Diabetic supplies include:
    • test strips
    • lancets
    • needles
    • antiseptic swabs
    • ‘sharps’ containers
  • Diabetic supplies do not include prescribed medications.

Nutritional beverages: Funding is provided to a maximum of 4 bottles per day at $2.00 per bottle. The amount funded is determined by a medical note.

  • Once a year you must provide a medical note signed by a physician, nurse practitioner or registered dietician that prescribes the number of bottles of nutritional beverages required per day.
  • First time applicants may receive benefits for up to 3 months based on this note. After the initial 3 months, funding is determined using receipts.
  • Only Ensure, Boost, Glucerna, Resource, Dairy Thick and Nepro or other brands that are nutritionally equivalent will be considered.

Podiatry: maximum $25 per month for regular maintenance (nail trimming and callus removal).

  • Receipts must include the senior's name, date of service and type of service provided.
  • The service provider's information including name, phone number and signature must also appear on the receipt.

Prescription costs: Assistance is provided for a portion of the co-payment amount for prescription medications only. Funding is provided for the co-payment amount you pay above the average of $45 per month for a single senior and $90 per month for a senior couple.

  • Over-the-counter medications and medications not on the Drug Benefit List are not considered.
  • Benefits are provided for the current benefit year only. Your previous 12-month prescription printout (Patient Medical Expense Report) from your pharmacist is needed to determine your monthly average co-payment and your anticipated prescription costs during this benefit year.
  • New seniors may provide documents from their pharmacy confirming their anticipated prescription costs over a 3-month period, including Alberta Blue Cross coverage for Seniors, or a prescription printout (Patient Medical Expense Report) from the time they turned 65 to today.

Personal supports

Bed bug fumigation: maximum $300. Funded once in a lifetime.

  • You must provide a letter from your landlord, property manager or extermination company (if a private residence) confirming a bed bug infestation.

Celiac groceries: maximum $50 per month.

  • A medical note from a physician or nurse practitioner confirming celiac disease is required the first time you apply. Funding is provided for the current benefit year only and is determined using the date your request is received. Funding will not be provided for a previous benefit year.

Clothing: maximum $600 per year.

  • A medical note from a health professional confirming new clothing is needed as a result of weight gain or loss (of 25% or more of the senior’s initial total body weight) within the previous 12-month period due to a medical condition is required.

Funeral expenses: maximum $1,200.

  • Assistance with funeral expenses is limited to the funeral of a spouse. The surviving spouse must be 65 years of age at the time of the spouse’s death and must be enrolled in the Alberta Seniors Benefit program. Request for a benefit must be received within 12-months of the date of death. A receipt is required.

Home clean up: maximum $500. Funded once in a lifetime.

  • To assist with the initial clean-up of a home when a hoarding problem has been identified by a social worker or community based worker or agency. A letter from the agency identifying a hoarding situation and an estimate or receipt for the clean-up is required.

Lift chair: maximum $800. Funded once in a lifetime.

  • Not funded when the senior lives in a long-term care facility. Repairs to a lift chair may also be considered.

Medical trips: assistance is provided for medical trips greater than 80 kilometres (round trip) to see a medical specialist or for medical testing/treatment.

  • A report from the medical specialist or medical facility specifying the dates of the appointment and confirmation of attendance is required.
  • Medical trips are funded based on a per diem amount, taking into consideration distance travelled, transportation costs, meals and parking. It is not necessary to submit receipts for these items.
  • If you stayed overnight and paid for accommodations, you will be required to submit the receipt. A maximum of $100 per night is funded. Receipts must be in the name of the senior or the senior's spouse.
  • Meal costs are considered on travel days only.
  • A once in a lifetime medical transportation benefit of $85 is available for a senior moving from a permanent placement in a long-term care centre to permanently relocate to another long-term care centre. Medically supervised transport using Alberta Paramedical Services or Emergency Medical Services is considered. Documentation from the transferring facility indicating that the senior requires medically supervised transfer by ambulance is required.

Medication administration fee: maximum $70 per month.

  • You may be referred to the Alberta Health Services Medication Assistance Program.
  • Benefits may only be paid to seniors residing in lodges and supportive living facilities.
  • Documentation from the facility stating the monthly medication administration fee and the effective date is required.
  • Benefits are provided for the current benefit year only.

Personal response service: maximum $30 per month monitoring fee and $80 installation.

  • An estimate or receipt is needed for installation and/or monthly monitoring fees. Benefits are provided for the current benefit year only.
  • In-home systems connecting to a third party responder responsible to dispatch emergency services or a caregiver are considered.
  • Assistance is not provided for personal GPS tracking systems, security/alarm services, or internal facility response services.

Relocation of washer and dryer: maximum $800.  Funded once in a lifetime.

  • A medical note from a health professional describing the medical condition that necessitates relocation is required.
  • An estimate or receipt is required.

Utility arrears: available for each utility (water, electricity and gas) once every 3 years.

  • Utilities must already be disconnected or will be disconnected within 48 hours.
  • A disconnection notice (in the senior’s name) from the utility company is required. The utility account must be in the senior’s name.

Wigs: maximum $250 each (2 per year).

  • A medical note from a physician or nurse practitioner confirming the medical condition is required the first time you apply.
  • An estimate or receipt is required.

Secondary funded items

Appliances/furniture

Only one of each funded appliance/furniture type is considered for either a single senior or senior couple in a lifetime. For example, you can only receive funding for a refrigerator one time from this program.

Additionally, only one appliance/furniture item for a single senior or senior couple is considered in a benefit year regardless of whether the expense is a primary or secondary funded item. For example, you can receive funding for a bed or a television in one benefit year, not both. Some exceptions are allowed.

The following are maximum amounts. Repairs to funded appliances may also be considered.

Appliance Maximum
Microwave $100
Television $300
Vacuum $150

All maximum amounts include:

  • GST
  • delivery
  • removal of old appliance
  • installation/hook-up
  • environmental fees

Health supports

Foot orthotics: maximum $400 each pair (maximum 2 pairs funded per lifetime).

  • Must be custom made foot orthotics.

Personal supports

Housekeeping and/or yard maintenance: maximum $1,200 in a benefit year.

  • Assistance is provided for light housekeeping, grass cutting, and snow removal only.
  • A medical note from a health professional the first time you apply specifying the mobility/health condition that does not allow you (and your spouse) to do your own housekeeping/yard maintenance is required.
  • Applicants living with, renting from or paying family members are not eligible for assistance.
  • Seniors residing in a lodge or supportive living facility are not eligible for assistance.
  • A medical note is not required if you and your spouse (if applicable) are 80 years of age or older.

Laundry costs: maximum $40 per month ($80 per month for a senior couple).

  • Seniors living in a lodge, designated supportive living or long-term care facility may receive assistance with laundry costs.
  • Receipts or a letter from the facility confirming the charge for laundry and the effective date are required.
  • Funding is provided for the current benefit year only and is determined using the date your request is received. Funding will not be provided for a previous benefit year.

Respite care: maximum 4 weeks per benefit year.

  • Respite care (relief for a caregiver) is provided for a senior living with their caregiver (spouse or family member) who provides daily care to the senior.
  • The respite care must be provided in a care centre.
  • A medical note from a health professional is required documenting the caregiver’s name and the senior's medical condition that requires daily full time care from a caregiver.
  • A receipt or estimate from the care centre is required.

Special circumstances

Special circumstances may affect the assessment of your Special Needs Assistance for Seniors request.

Seniors in a long-term care or supportive living facility

If you are a senior couple who have been involuntarily separated for health reasons and one of you is residing in a lodge, long-term care or supportive living facility, ensure you have contacted the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) program. GIS may consider you and your spouse/partner single seniors, if it is to your financial benefit.

You must also let the Alberta Seniors Benefit program know that you are involuntarily separated. Depending on your specific situation, Alberta Seniors Benefit may provide additional support.

The Special Needs Assistance for Seniors program may also take into consideration that you are maintaining 2 residences. If you live in long-term care or designated supportive living, the Supplementary Accommodation Benefit you received from Alberta Seniors Benefit (if claimed on your income tax) will be deducted before calculating your eligibility for assistance.

Trustee/power of attorney

This only applies if someone has been designated as your legal trustee and/or power of attorney. If so, Alberta Seniors and Housing staff will contact you to clarify if additional documents are required.

Estates

Estates of a deceased senior may be eligible to receive reimbursement for expenses that a senior incurred prior to his or her death. The request must be received within 3 months of the date of death to be considered.

How to submit a claim

To submit a claim you must first be enrolled in the Seniors Financial Assistance programs.

If you have already completed this application form, there is no need to apply again.

You will not be eligible for any item purchased prior to your enrollment in the Seniors Financial Assistance programs.

Step 1: Review the information booklet

Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Information Booklet

Step 2: Get a receipt or estimate for requested items

You must send a receipt or estimate for each of the items requested. Ensure the receipt or estimate includes your:

  • full name (please print)
  • Personal Health Number
  • address
  • phone number

You may use the Special Needs Assistance for Seniors request form (PDF, 225 KB) when submitting your receipt or estimate, but it is not required.

Step 3: Include supporting documents

Some funded items require medical notes. Unless otherwise specified, a health professional includes:

  • physicians
  • nurse practitioners
  • registered nurses
  • registered social workers
  • physical therapists
  • occupational therapists working in the field of health care

Step 4: Review dates

The program can accept a receipt for an item that was bought up to 12 months prior to the date it was received. The date of the receipt is compared to the date we receive your claim.

You must have been eligible to make a claim when the item was purchased.

Step 5: Mail or fax a receipt or estimate of the items requested

Submit your receipts or estimates by fax to 780-422-5954 or mail them to:

Special Needs Assistance for Seniors
P.O. Box 3100
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W3

After you submit a claim

Alberta Seniors and Housing will review your request and contact you by mail regarding the outcome.

You may be contacted for additional information. If additional information is requested and not provided, the request will be assessed with the information on hand. The file may be closed if the missing information is critical to making a decision.

If you provide an estimate to SNA and have received funding, you may be asked to send in receipts showing that you purchased and paid for the items. Keep all receipts for funded items for at least 2 years from the date of purchase.

If you do not spend the money on approved items, you may be asked to return the funding.

If you do not send in a receipt, or return the funding, you will not be eligible for assistance in the future.

Appeals

You may appeal a decision regarding your request for assistance.

Step 1: Call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Call 1-877-644-9992. You will have the opportunity to provide any new information about your situation and receive an explanation from the assessor. Staff will clarify the program’s decision or request a file review.

Step 2. Write to the Director of Seniors Financial Assistance

If you were unable to resolve the issue with the Alberta Supports Contact Centre, write to:

Director, Seniors Financial Assistance
Special Needs Assistance for Seniors
P.O. Box 3100
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4W3

Or send by fax to: 780-422-5954

Step 3.  Write to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Seniors Services

If you were unable to resolve the issue with the Director of Seniors Financial Assistance, write to:

Assistant Deputy Minister
Seniors Services Division
P.O. Box 3100
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4W3

Or send by fax to: 780-422-5954

Step 4. Submit a Notice of Appeal form

If you were unable to resolve the issue with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Seniors Services, a Notice of Appeal form will be mailed to you. Follow the instructions provided with the form.

Contact

To connect with the Alberta Supports Contact Centre:

Hours: 7:30 am to 8:00 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-644-9992 (in Edmonton)
Toll free: 1-877-644-9992
Fax: 780-422-5954

Address:
Special Needs Assistance for Seniors
P.O. Box 3100
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W3