Longer Longevity Bonus
(JUNEAU) - The House today unanimously passed a bill to increase the amount of time senior citizens receiving the Alaska Longevity Bonus could travel outside Alaska and still remain eligible.
Sponsored by the House Health, Education and Social Services Committee, House Bill 162 would modify the program’s travel provisions to make it easier for seniors to travel Outside for medical treatment, family obligations, vacations or other reasons and still receive the monthly cash payments.
“Under the present law people who get the Longevity Bonus could only be out of state for 30 days at a stretch,” said Rep. Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River), chair of the HESS committee. “Those who want to go out of state for medical reasons or to visit their kids found it really hard, particularly if they took the highway, so we increased that to 60 days.”
The bill also eliminates a provision under which Alaskans gone from the state longer than 90 days lose a year’s worth of bonus payments, but may reapply upon their return. HB 162 would simply permanently disqualify those gone for more than five years at a single stretch. The bill does not end the requirement for recipients to report their absences to the Department of Revenue, which administers the program.
“This bill saves the department money, makes it easier for people to maintain their qualification for the Longevity Bonus, and lets them go out about their family business,” Dyson said. “There’s a diminishing number of people getting the bonus, but these are Alaska pioneers who made a huge contribution to our state. We need to make life easy for them.”
HB 162 moves next to the Senate for consideration.
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