The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska ? A study by the Alaska Commission on Aging finds the state’s elderly have little income to spare and are more dependent on Social Security payments and the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend than on any other sources of income. And while the number of Alaskans aged 65 and over is projected to nearly triple statewide over the next couple of decades, benefits aimed at the elderly have eroded.
MaryAnn VandeCastle, planner for the Alaska Commission on Aging, said proponents of cutting or reducing benefits for the elderly often think they’re among the state’s wealthiest residents.
But a McDowell Group study in 2000 found that while elderly Alaskans account for money flowing into the state by way of medical payments and retirement income, more than half of elderly Alaskans live on the edge of solvency. The state Commission on Aging, a unit of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, recently concurred that the elderly have little spare income and rely on Social Security payments and the permanent fund dividend more than any other income source.
About 21 percent of 1,254 people responding to the commission’s statewide survey said they did not have enough money for food, clothing, rent, fuel and medicine. Another 36 percent said that while they can meet monthly expenses, there was little left over, VandeCastle said. Only 8 percent of elderly responding reported monthly income of $6,000 or more.