The Pennsylvania Department Human Services recently reported that applications for state-issued benefits have not increased above pre-pandemic levels. For residents who have experienced job loss or pay cuts in the wake of COVID-19, these programs can provide much-needed help to get through this difficult time.
A snapshot of available benefits:
- SNAP: Up to $650/month for a family of four
- Medicaid: Free or very low-cost health insurance
- Cash: Up to $500/month for a family of four
- Utilities: Maximum benefit of $800
Residents can apply online for these benefits at the state’s online application at compass.state.pa.us. If you need help applying for benefits, call the City’s BenePhilly program at 833-373-5868.
Here are some things to know as you review your benefits options:
Medicaid and Marketplace health-care coverage are both available. Health insurance decisions can be complicated; if you need help applying, call the PA Health Access Network at 877-570-3642. For help with benefits issues or appeals, call Community Legal Services at 215-227-2400.
- Many laid-off workers qualify for free Medicaid—known as Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania—based on their income. If you don’t qualify, you will be automatically connected with the Marketplace.
- If you lost a job but your household still has some income, you may be eligible for Marketplace coverage.
- Apply at the COMPASS site even if you aren’t sure you have all of the documentation. The state is being more flexible during the pandemic.
- Medicaid: None
- Marketplace: Apply within 60 days after a change in employment. For example, someone who lost a job in March has a deadline in May.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides almost $200/month in food assistance to individuals and up to about $650/month for a family of four. Food distribution sites throughout the city are designed to make sure Philadelphians have enough to eat, but SNAP can provide even more help.
- Income of less than $1,300/month for a single person to $2,790/month for a family of four.
- Note: The WIC program provides families with kids under age 5 with food and formula. Call North, Inc. at 215-978-6100, ext. 38.
Families with children who have lost income may be eligible for cash grants, even while they are waiting for unemployment assistance to start. The temporary Emergency Assistance Program provides one-time payments that range from $400 to $1,200 based on family size.
- The program is for individuals with COVID-related income reductions
- You may be eligible if your income is now less than 150% of the federal poverty level (about $2,700/month for a family of three),
Deadline: June 12 or until all funds are claimed
The state’s new Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program helps residents offset costs for home utilities, including electricity. The maximum benefit is $800.
- Households with income at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines
- Households at risk of utility shutoffs or would face shut-off if not for current moratorium
- Households that previously received a LIHEAP payment will receive additional payments, but they must take action to have funds directed to a different utility
Deadline: August 31 or until all funds are claimed