How old is old?

Picture by jdurham on Morguefile

Picture by jdurham on Morguefile

Every year more than 600,000 Alaskans apply for a dividend from the Permanent Fund, an investment of oil revenue, made in the name of all residents. Those who wish to receive a share must apply and the law places the responsibility upon the applicants. I work for the Alaska Department of Revenue, which process and examines all those applications. This time of year, I am sending out hundreds of denial letters to people who didn’t respond to requests for information. Sometimes it’s as simple as a missing form or signature.

At a recent staff meeting we discussed the possibility of offering extra help to elderly applicants.  But how old is old?

One of the twenty-somethings at the table said 50.

I stated that when I see an application with a birth date in the 1920s, 30s, or 40s, and the person needs to complete a form, I’m tempted to call them and let them know.  To anyone younger, I send a letter telling them to get the form online.

Maybe the best answer came from one of the supervisors. He believes old is “My age plus 30 years.” If he keeps that definition he never gets old.

We spent 15 minutes on the topic, but we didn’t answer the questions.

Is it viable, or ethical, to give extra help based on age, when the program is strictly voluntary, and those who don’t complete applications are to be treated the same and denied?

Even if we could assist the elderly, how old is old?

Photo by Verbaska on

Photo by Verbaska on

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