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​Resources & Assistance

Last Updated: June 17, 2020

The Wolf Administration understands that the mitigation efforts to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania have created a variety of unique situations and conditions for workers, businesses, employers, and communities. We are committed to providing you with ongoing information and will continue doing everything we can to support the needs of all Pennsylvanians.

Unemployment Compensation (UC) is one of many benefits that may be available to you during this challenging and unprecedented time. This guide will provide more resources that may assist you and your family in your search for employment, health care, social services, food, utilities, child care, housing, debt, and mental health and substance abuse services.

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Paid Leave Options for Employees

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If your employer remains in operation but you are unable to work due to COVID-19, you may wish to use paid leave rather than filing for UC.

You cannot collect both paid leave and UC at the same time. Remember: you must report all income received from any source, including paid leave.  

Check with your employer to see if the following benefits are available to you:

  • Paid sick time

  • Paid time off

  • Paid vacation time

  • Short-term disability insurance

  • Any additional resources

Ask your employer about expansions to paid leave:

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  

If you work for an employer with less than 500 employees, or work for a public employer with one or more employees, ask your employer about using this leave. Leave available through the FFCRA includes:

  • Up to 10 days of paid leave if you or a family member have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it.
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid leave if you are unable to work because your child's school or childcare is closed due to COVID-19.

 

Find out more at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic, or call 1-866-4-US-WAGE

 

Workers' Compensation (WC) Benefits

If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for Workers' Compensation (WC) by either:

  • Notifying your employer to file a typical "disease-as-injury" WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace

  • Notifying your employer to file an "occupational disease" WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population

To learn more about the WC process, please visit www.dli.pa.gov.

 

Unpaid Wage Claims

If you have been laid off and have not received your last paycheck or compensation you are owed, payment to you is required by state law. If your regular payday has passed without payment, contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Labor Law Compliance by calling 1-800-932-0665. You can also submit a claim by visiting www.dli.pa.gov.


U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For information on traditional loans visit SBA’s website.

For information on temporary disaster relief loans, contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center by calling 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

 

Search for Employment

Looking for work? Register on PA CareerLink at www.PACareerLink.pa.gov, and use the job search function to explore new occupations. There are several other resources on the site like links to trainings, job counselors, and more.

Note to UC Claimants: Work Search and Work Registration requirements are temporarily waived for all UC claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with PA CareerLink.

Maintaining Health Insurance Coverage

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​You should speak with your previous employer to ask if you will still be covered by your employer's benefits and, if so, for how long. Some employers may consider employees collecting UC to be in "unpaid with benefits" status, and those individuals may be able to maintain their health insurance coverage through their previous employer.

You should act quickly if you do not have health insurance.  For many plans, you must enroll within 60 days of a "qualifying event," which may be either your separation from your employer or the last day on which your previous employer covered you under their insurance plan.

Pennsylvanians have several health insurance options:

  • Medical Assistance. Depending on your income, you and your family may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Visit www.compass.state.pa.us to see if you qualify.

 

  • Marketplace Coverage. If you’ve recently lost your job-based health coverage, in the past 60 days, you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP) and can shop for and enroll in a plan at Healthcare.gov. If you have additional questions or need further assistance, please contact the PACHC's Navigator Hub at 1-866-944-CARE (2273).

 

Additional information on these programs as well as a helpful FAQ are available on the PA Department of Insurance website.

Resources from the Pennsylvania County Assistance Offices

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All County Assistance Offices are temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, but access to these services is still available at www.compass.state.pa.us or by calling your County Assistance Office to receive help over the phone. 

Available benefits and services include:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Cash Assistance

  • Health Care Coverage (Medical Assistance) 

  • Home Heating Assistance (LIHEAP)

  • Family Planning Services

  • Help with Child Care

  • School Meals

  • Long-Term Living Services

Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' website at www.dhs.pa.gov for more information. 

Resources for Food Assistance 

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SNAP Benefits/Food Stamps

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps Pennsylvanians buy food. People in eligible low-income households can obtain more nutritious diets with SNAP increasing their food purchasing power at grocery stores and supermarkets. Those who are eligible receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases.

Experiencing a food emergency and need food right away? Help is available. Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' website at www.dhs.pa.gov, or call the Helpline, toll-free, at 1-800-692-7462 (1-800-451-5886 for individuals with hearing impairments) or your county assistance office.

If you or your family are suddenly in need of food, please tell the Emergency Food Task Force how to best serve you, and provide an email address to receive more information.  Please click here.  


PA Food Banks and Pantries

There are several food pantries across the commonwealth. Please contact your area food bank to find assistance in your community. 

Westmoreland County Food Bank

  • 100 Devonshire Drive, Delmont, PA 15626
  • 724.468.8660

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

  • 1 North Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110
  • 412.460.3663

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania

  • 1507 Grimm Drive, Erie, PA 16501
  • 814.459.3663

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

  • 3908 Corey Road, Harrisburg, PA 17109
  • 717.564.1700

Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and NE Pennsylvania

  • 6969 Silver Crest Road, Nazareth, PA 18064
  • 610.434.0875

Philabundance

  • 3616 S. Galloway Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
  • 215.339.0900

H & J Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank

  • 185 Research Drive, Pittston, PA 18640
  • 570.908.2222

Helping Harvest

  • 117 Morgan Drive, Reading, PA 19608
  • 610.926.5802

Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County

  • 109 S Sharpsville Avenue, Suite A, Sharon, PA 16146
  • 724.981.0353

 

Summer Food Service Program 

The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. People over 18 who have a mental or physical disability and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for persons with a disability are also able to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites.

There are several ways to locate a participating summer meal site:

  • Call the "211" phone number for the National call center.
  • Call "1.866.3Hungry" or "1.877.8Hambre" to find the place and time of free meals.
  • Visit USDA's website for locations and times where free meals are to be served.
  • Text "FOOD" to "877877" to find out the nearest SFSP site near your location.
  • Download the Range app to locate places and times where free meals are served.


Meals for Senior Citizens

Low-income, eligible seniors can receive a box of nutritious food monthly from local distribution sites through the ElderShare & Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). For information about meal programs in your area, please contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). To find your AAA, please visit www.aging.pa.gov.

 

Meals on Wheels

Several nonprofits and community organizations across Pennsylvania are affiliated with Meals on Wheels, which offers meals to home-bound older persons. For more information contact your local Meals on Wheels provider or AAA. 

Utility Assistance

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On March 13, the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) issued an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations.  This order will remain in effect for the duration of Governor Wolf's Proclamation of Disaster related to COVID-19.

If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service provider right away. Many utility service providers offer emergency assistance programs.

Learn more about the services offered by the PUC at www.puc.state.pa.us or by calling Customer Hotline 1-800-692-7380.

For information from the federal government regarding help that may be available, please visit http://www.usa.gov/help-with-bills  or call 1-844-USA-GOV1 (1-844-872-4681).

 

2-1-1 United Way of Pennsylvania Utility Assistance

The United Way offers a variety of resources via 2-1-1. Dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to #898-211 to talk with a resource specialist, or visit www.uwp.org/211gethelp/ to browse resources in your community.

Child Care Resources

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The Department of Human Services has created a FAQ for families needing childcare.

Red Counties:

All child care facilities in Pennsylvania are closed in red counties to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with some exceptions. Family Child Care Homes and Group Child Care Homes that operate inside a residence are permitted to remain open.

Child care centers that have received a waiver to provide services to healthcare workers and employees of life-sustaining businesses are permitted to remain open. To see a list of child care programs operating on a waiver, visit the Department of Human Services' COVID-19 Resources Child Care Centers Map at www.dhs.pa.gov/providers/Providers/Pages/Coronavirus-Child-Care.aspx or contact DHS at 1-800-692-7462.

Yellow and Green Counties:

Counties that move to the yellow or green phase of Governor Wolf’s coronavirus phased reopening plan, child care providers are permitted to reopen without a waiver. Child care providers preparing to open should consult guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for child care that remains open.

Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs) can help working families find open child care centers with waivers in your area. ELRCs can assist families with applying for CCW (child care subsidy) or finding other community resources they may need during this time, such as food pantries.

Locate your closest ELRC at www.raiseyourstar.org

Housing Resources

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If you are unable to make your rent payment, contact your landlord immediately and try to work out an agreement.

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

Applications for CARES Act financial assistance for renters and homeowners will be available June 29; application submissions will begin July 6.

Renters and homeowners who were financially impacted by the economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access applications for rent and mortgage relief starting June 29. At that time, applications will be accessible from a red banner on the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s website at www.PHFA.org. PHFA will begin accepting applications for rent and mortgage assistance on July 6.

PHFA’s call center is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with questions about the programs. The toll-free number is 1-855-U-Are-Home (827-3466). Callers should listen for the prompt mentioning CARES assistance for renters and homeowners.

Additional PHFA Resources

Pennsylvania has a variety of housing programs and services that can help older adults and people with disabilities, individuals and families with low incomes, or those who are at-risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency's housing search tool helps people search for housing by topics such as rent amount, area of interest, accessibility, or availability of public transportation. A bi-lingual, toll-free number is also available.

To search for housing visit www.pahousingsearch.com or call Toll-Free: 1-877-428-8844.


HUD Resources

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can offer rental assistance and counseling. Visit www.hud.gov to learn more or contact a housing counseling agency toll-free by calling 1-800-569-4287.

 

2-1-1 United Way of Pennsylvania Housing Assistance

The United Way offers a variety of resources via 2-1-1. Dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to #898-211 to talk with a resource specialist, or visit www.uwp.org/211gethelp/ to browse resources in your community.

Assistance Paying a Debt

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If you have seen a reduction in pay due to COVID-19 and are struggling to make your credit card or loan payments, contact your lender right away. Explain your situation and ask about hardship programs that may be available. Regulatory agencies have encouraged financial institutions to work with customers impacted by the coronavirus.

 

Trouble Paying Credit Cards

Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overpayments, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.

For more information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regarding credit cards, mortgages, and more, please visit www.consumerfinance.gov.

A credit counselor may be able to assist you with your debt. Find one near you by contacting the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) at 1-800-388-2227 or by visiting www.nfcc.org.

 

Trouble Paying your Mortgage or Rent

If you can't cover your mortgage payment or rent, contact your lender or landlord immediately. Do not wait until you're behind on payments.

Some lenders may work out an agreement with you to waive late fees, set up a repayment plan, or offer loan forbearance.

For mortgage information visit www.consumerfinance.gov. Find a housing counselor near you by visiting www.hud.gov.

For rental assistance visit www.hud.gov.

 

Student Loans Deferment

If you're in a short-term financial bind, you may qualify for a deferment or a forbearance. With either of these options, you can temporarily suspend your payments. Visit the Federal Student Aid Office website at www.studentaid.gov for further guidance and select "Coronavirus Forbearance Information."

Private student loans and some federal student loans may be excluded from the CARES Act payment freeze.  The Attorney General's office has partnered with Summer, a social enterprise that assists student loan borrowers, to provide free student loan assistance to simplify and save on your student debt.

Pennsylvania residents can now access Summer's digital platform and its student loan experts free of charge to receive customized loan savings recommendations at meetsummer.org/pa.

 

Short Term and Emergency Loans

Consider your options before taking out a high cost short term loan. Talk with your creditors to negotiate more time to pay bills, borrow from friends or family, or explore low interest loans offered by local banks and credit unions.

If you do take out a short-term loan, make sure the lender is licensed with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities and borrow only what you can afford to pay back.  Find out more at www.dobs.pa.gov, or by calling 1-800-PA-BANKS.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

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Mental Health in PA offers resources from the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) for mental health and substance use disorder. Resources include:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  • Línea Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454

  • Crisis Text Line: Text "PA" to 741-741 

  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990

Mental Health/Warmline: The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) has partnered with the Center for Community Resources to offer a 24/7 mental health and crisis support line for people dealing with anxiety or other difficult emotions. Callers will be able to speak with staff who are trained in trauma-informed principles and will listen, assess the person's needs, triage, and refer to other local supports and professionals as needed.

The Mental Health Support Line can be reached toll-free, 24/7 at 1-855-284-2494.

SAMHSA's National Helpline1-800-662-HELP (4357), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

Federal Tax Help & Economic Impact Payments

​The IRS is offering tax help for taxpayers, businesses, tax-exempt organizations and others – including health plans – affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Through the Economic Impact Payments, U.S. citizens and U.S. resident aliens will receive

$1,200 for individual or head of household filers, and $2,400 for married filing jointly if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible Social Security number with adjusted gross income up to:

  • $75,000 for individuals if their filing status was single or married filing separately

  • $112,500 for head of household filers and

  • $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns

Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their Adjusted Gross Income is between:

  • $75,000 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately

  • 112,500 and $136,500 for head of household

  • $150,000 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly

This helpful guide walks you through the process of what you need to do to get an Economic Impact Payment.

You can learn more about Economic Impact Payments at IRS' Information Center website.

In addition, Americans without a permanent address qualify for a one-time $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. No income is required to claim the payment. Sign up by using the free online tool at www.IRS.gov/nonfilereip. For more information, visit: www.irs.gov/coronavirus