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

See PDF overview.

Residents can apply online for these benefits at the state’s online application at 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:

Health-Care Coverage

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.

Eligibility highlights:

  • 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.

Food Assistance

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.

Eligibility highlights:

  • 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.

Deadline: None

Cash Grants

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.

Eligibility highlights:

  • 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

Utilities Assistance

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.

Eligibility highlights:

  • 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