Shawnda O'Brien
Shawnda O'Brien
Director
 

 

Vitamin D bannerVitamin D is important for strong bones and may contribute to overall good health. Alaskans should select foods that are high in vitamin D, such as Alaska salmon, and should talk with their health care provider about vitamin D and the risks and benefits of supplementation.

News & Updates


 
Benefit Verifications
To verify Alaska program participation, the preferred contact method is to send requests via email to verifications@alaska.gov

 
Fax: 907-269-3099
Phone: 907-269-7880
 

News

  • New IconOctober 20 - For Posting:Informational Flyer for SNAP Recipients and Retailers in Southwest Disaster Areas
    Now through Nov. 4, SNAP recipients living in disaster areas caused by Typhoon Merbok can use their Quest Card for “hot” and prepared foods.

  • New IconOctober 17 - Hot Foods for SNAP recipients in Southwest Disaster Areas: See our announcement about Special Disaster Rules for Accepting SNAP EBT Benefits for Hot Foods Purchases for details on how to use SNAP benefits, and a list of retailers who can participate (but are not required to do so.)

  • October 3, 2022 - Language Interpretation Services
    Did you know that DPA offers no-cost language interpretation services for people when they interact with the department? Callers can reach the division’s Virtual Contact Center in their preferred language, by using the numbers provided for commonly spoken languages that are listed on our Foreign Language Support page.

  • October 3, 2022 - Tips when calling the VCC
    Timelines for service – What you can Expect
    During COVID, eligibility requirements were relaxed and waived for many programs. As we unwind we want you to know our regular processing timeframes:
    • MAGI Medicaid ~ 45 days
    • Disability-based Medicaid ~ 90 days
    • All other programs ~ 30 days
    • SNAP expedited service ~ 7 days
    • Heating Assistance and General Relief Assistance ~ Emergency based
    We will continue to improve our systems and processes to give Alaskans the fastest possible service. Please use these tips for contacting our VCC to address any questions you may have.

  • September 13, 2022: The Virtual Call Center (VCC) is limiting options for callers on Wednesdays. Read more about our newWednesday Service Schedule to know what to expect and how to find the right queue.
  • July 1, 2022:  Don’t risk a gap in your Medicaid coverage!
    No one knows yet when the Public Health Emergency will end, but the Divsion of Public Assistance wants you to be aware of these upcoming changes so you can be prepared and prevent any disruption of benefits.
  • June 30, 2022: Director’s letter about changes to supplements for SNAP recipients
  • June 24, 2022 Director's message regarding 2022 WIC service changes
  • May 13, 2022: Director’s letter about supplements for Temporary Assistance recipients
  • May 12, 2022:Director’s letter about supplements for Heating Assistance recipients 
  • February 18, 2022:  Voluntary recall for certain powder formulas, including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare
    The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners are investigating four consumer complaints of infant illness related to products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI facility received from 9/20/2021 to 1/11/2022. These formulas may be contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii which is a bacterium. Illness from this organism is rare, but infection can cause meningitis and septicemia in infants. The infection can be fatal or result in long-term complications.

    For more information, view the alerts from the federal Food and Drug Administration and press release from Abbott Formulas.

    On February 18, 2022, Abbott issued a voluntary recall for certain powder formulas, including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare. DO NOT feed your baby formula if it is included in this recall. Abbott recommends that parents dump the formula but keep the cans. Further information for reimbursement or replacement is anticipated from Abbott.

    Affected products can be identified by:
    • the first two digits of the code on the container are 22 through 37, and
    • the code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2, and
    • the "use-by" date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.
    Visit www.similacrecall.com or call 800-986-8540 to find out if your formula is included.

    Affected powder formulas (only produced in Sturgis, MI):
    • 12.6 oz Total Comfort powder
    • 12.5 oz Similac for Spit Up powder
    • All EleCare powder Infant and Jr
    • All Alimentum powder
    Partially Affected powder formula (produced in Sturgis, MI as well as other plants)
    • 12.5 oz Similac Sensitive powder
    • 12.4 oz Similac Advance powder
    Not Affected (not produced at Sturgis, MI plant)
    • Isomil
    • NeoSure
    • All concentrated liquids and ready to feeds

     
  • January 13, 2022: Phishing Alert!
    ImportantPlease be aware that the Division of Public Assistance does not send text messages. Be suspicious of any texts you receive about SNAP or other Public Assistance programs.
  • December 20, 2021:
    One Fax Number for All Division of Public Assistance Offices

    As part of the division’s ongoing effort to improve statewide services we are moving toward a single fax number for all offices beginning January 2022. The division will phase out local office numbers as the statewide number becomes active. The new toll-free fax number is 888-269-6520, and Anchorage area residents can dial 907-269-6520. Please update your contact information for our agency as appropriate.

    We’re modernizing our systems to become more efficient and responsive. The new fax number will interface with the division’s workload processing tool, which schedules tasks for staff statewide as they become available. This will also interface with the division’s Virtual Contact Center, which allows staff members to instantly access client information when people call.

    Reminder to Update Mailing Addresses
    During the pandemic the division has been improving ways to assist Alaskans in need. Even though we’re moving toward a more centralized, electronic service delivery model, we still require a current mailing address for participation in our programs. For this reason, people who use our services are encouraged to update their mailing address if needed to assist in the smooth delivery of services. You can drop off or mail information to any local office, or use the centralized phone, email or fax at:  

    Virtual Contact Center: 800-478-7778
    (TDD/Alaska Relay: 7-1-1)
    Offices Email: HSS.DPA.Offices@alaska.gov
    Secure Email (requires a DSM account): dpa.offices@hss.soa.directak.net
    Fax: 888-269-6520, Anchorage 907-269-6520

    Equal opportunity program and provider.
  • November 12, 2021:
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments

    The division received approval from the federal Food and Nutrition Service to distribute October and November emergency allotments (EA) for SNAP recipients. Approval of SNAP EA is based on a public health emergency declaration by the secretary of Health and Human Services and a state-issued emergency or disaster declaration. EA helps households meet temporary food needs during the public health emergency by providing the maximum monthly benefit for their household size and allows all households to receive at least $95 monthly in EA.

    The division will process October and November benefits for eligible households during November. Due to the complexity and manual work involved in processing EA, it is likely that benefits will not be fully processed for these months until December.

    SNAP recipients can contact our Virtual Contact Center at 1-800-478-7778 with any questions about the EA or status of their case.

  • Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Update
    Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) is part of the U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (PL 116–127), as amended by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (PL 116-159), provides the Secretary of Agriculture authority to approve state agency plans to administer P-EBT.

    Through P-EBT, eligible school children receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food. Children who would have received free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Act if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least 5 consecutive days are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.

    The division is working as quickly as possible to issue the Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) supplements for the recent school year. The division is coordinating with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to implement Food and Nutrition Service guidance. Applications and information will be available to serve recipients and school districts. Please continue checking our website for updates. Thank you for your patience.

  • July 28, 2021: Long Term Care now available through the Virtual Call Center (VCC)

    Long Term Care callers can now use the Virtual Contact Center line 1-800-478-7778 to connect with a caseworker.

  • When calling the VCC callers will be able to:
    1. enter their assigned caseworker’s extension to transfer directly, or
    2. wait for a staff member to transfer to the caseworker or a Long Term Care supervisor if there is no assigned caseworker
  • June 17, 2021: Receiving an error when you swipe your P-EBT card? Call 888-997-8111 or 800-478-7778 or Email us at HSS.DPA.Offices@alaska.gov.

    The latest mailing of Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) cards to families included cards with unreadable magnetic stripes. Although families can access benefits if the retailer uses information on the card, it will be easier to use the card by swiping the card. Families can contact customer service using information on the back of the card, or contact our Virtual Contact Center or email our offices to request a replacement card. We apologize for this inconvenience. For more information P-EBT, please see our frequently asked questions page.

  • May 17, 2021 - Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Issuance of Spring 2020 Benefits – FAQs

  • Heating Assistance
    The division is processing Heating Assistance applications statewide. People who want to apply can contact our Virtual Call Center at 800-478-7778 or email hss.dpa.offices@alaska.gov for help. Once an application is received, the division will send notice. The notice includes an ID number and contact information for our automated hotline to check the status of an application.

  • April 3, 2020 - Social distancing options when paying for groceries with SNAP benefits during COVID-19
    Until recently federal regulation barred SNAP EBT from being used as a method of online payment for SNAP eligible items.  Currently the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is running a pilot with a small number of states and vendors testing acceptance of online EBT payments, however participation in the pilot is very limited at this time.

    Although Alaska vendors are not currently able to accept SNAP EBT as a method of online payment, there are several options that would allow for a retailer to continue to get food to its SNAP clients in light of the social distancing recommendations related to COVID-19. These include:
    • SNAP client placing their order online or over the phone and picking it up at the store. If the store has a wireless POS the customer would be able to complete the transaction without having to leave their car.
    • SNAP client placing their order online or over the phone and having the order delivered to their designated delivery address. The transaction can be completed using a wireless POS.
    • SNAP client placing their order online or over the phone and designating a person to pick the order at the store using the clients EBT card. The transaction can be completed, using the SNAP clients EBT card, in the store or by using a mobile POS device outside of the store.
    Vendors are encouraged to reach out to their retailer association or FNS with any COVID-19 processing questions.  Additional information can be found on the FNS website at: FNS COVID-19 response website and SNAP Retailer Service Center.

  • April 2, 2021 - Virtual Contact Center is Live
    Our Virtual Contact Center (VCC) is accepting calls at 800-478-7778. This line supports all requests for all offices except Long Term Care.

  • March 4, 2021 - Change in Anchorages Office Locations

  • March 18, 2020 - Public Assistance recipients should be aware of several changes resulting from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including:
    • Medicaid benefits have been enhanced and extended
    • No-work requirements for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) have been suspended
    • Automatic six month extension for all Public Assistance programs
    For more information, please see DPA Director Shawnda O’Brien’s letter to DPA recipients.

  • Benefit Verifications
    To verify Alaska program participation, the preferred contact method is to send requests via email to verifications@alaska.gov. If necessary, a fax can be sent to 907-269-3099. Please include agency contact information in case we have a question about your request. Each request must include the client’s full name, date of birth, SSN or last 4 of the SSN, current mailing address, a list of all household members that are applying for assistance, and a brief description of what verification is needed. If the names of all household members are not included, the response may not be completely accurate. A signed release from the program participant is normally required for the Division of Public Assistance to release this information. Questions about a verification request can be directed to 907-269-7880.

  • December 11, 2019: At the direction of Governor Mike Dunleavy, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Assistance (DPA) is developing a plan for individuals who receive cash payments from the Adult Public Assistance (APA) program and we are working closely with the Social Security Administration in order to implement this change on an expedited basis. If any cases are not able to be worked prior to January 1, a supplemental benefit will be issued to individuals in January.

    Some recipients of the APA program may have recently received a letter in the mail about upcoming changes to the program including a reduction in benefits. Because of recent efforts to restore funding those individual case letters can be ignored and new letters will be sent out to individuals.

    If you have questions after you receive this case specific notice, contact your local public assistance office.

  • January 23, 2019 -Notification Letter of Information Compromised
    This notice was sent to residents at addresses that have been or still are a participant of the Department of Health & Social Services, Division of Public Assistance programs. It notified individuals on April 26, 2018, it was discovered that information contained in the DPA’s eligibility database may have been breached. The notice provided things individuals can do to minimize their risk.

  • June 28, 2018 -HIPAA and APIPA Breach Notification?
    ANCHORAGE – The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) had a security breach which may have disclosed personal information of individuals who have interacted with Division of Public Assistance (DPA) in the Northern region. Due to the potential for stolen personal information, DHSS urges Alaskans who have been involved with the DPA Northern region offices to take actions to protect themselves from identity theft. (more)

Office Changes

 
April 2, 2020 - Simplified contact email and phone for all offices
All inquiries can now be directed to our Virtual Contact Center at 1-800-478-7778 or by email at hss.dpa.offices@alaska.gov. Long Term Care inquiries can be addressed directly to the office.

 
April 14, 2020 - Office Closures
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Public Assistance offices are not open for in-person service. Lobbies are still open to pick up and drop off applications and information. Staff are available by phone, fax, and email and will respond to requests as quickly as possible. See our contacts page for information.

Warnings

 
  • USDA warns about scammers targeting SNAP participants
    Scammers taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic are attempting to steal personal information from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. Please be careful with any unknown individual or organization that requests your confidential information, including your social security number, bank information, or your SNAP EBT card and PIN number. More information is available on the USDA's Scam Alerts page.

    Contact your local SNAP office if you’re unsure if a request is legitimate or you have any questions. If you believe you’re the victim of identity theft, contact your local police department.

  • 2019 Alert: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently confirmed that the HHS OIG Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. Learn more...

  • 2019 Alert: A phone number that was once used for the Denali KidCare program is now being used to ask people for their credit card number in order to win a prize. The phone number related to this activity is 888-318-8890. This is not a State of Alaska government phone number. People should not call this number or give out Medicaid or credit card information.
 

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