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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. However, you can file a claim for UC benefits if you know you will exhaust all of your paid leave, including paid sick, paid time off, paid vacation, and paid comp 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 recent federal expansions of 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 specific 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, visit the WC COVID-19 FAQ page.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Pennsylvania has started to vaccinate against COVID-19 and is working to expand eligibility to more groups of people. With initial supplies limited, the COVID-19 vaccine is being given to those most at-risk of illness — such as older adults, health care workers and Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities, and people with certain pre-existing conditions. To learn more about eligibility and where you can get vaccinated, please visit the PA Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information page.
Concerned about health insurance or lack of coverage? Even without health insurance, you should still be able to get a vaccine at no charge. Ahead of your visit to receive the vaccine, you should call your provider to make sure you will not be charged. Please refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for additional guidance.
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.
If you are no longer receiving health insurance through your employer, you may be eligible to enroll in COBRA to continue your current health coverage, or you may purchase health insurance through Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based health insurance marketplace. Pennsylvanians can shop, compare, and purchase quality health insurance plans through January 15, 2021 at Pennie.com.
For additional health insurance information, visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department's, Health Insurance Options page or call 1-877-881-6388. If you believe you are eligible for Medicaid, you can also use COMPASS to sign up for Medical Assistance. COMPASS is an online tool for Pennsylvanians to apply for many health and human service programs like Medicaid and CHIP. Visit COMPASS at www.compass.state.pa.us.
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.
Additional information on these programs as well as a helpful FAQ are available on the PA Department of Insurance website.
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) for food assistance
- Temporary Cash Assistance for families with children
- Employment and Training programs
- Health Care Coverage (Medical Assistance, CHIP, Pennie)
- 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.
SNAP Benefits/Food Stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps Pennsylvanians buy food. People who are eligible for SNAP receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases. Some stores in Pennsylvania now accept the ACCESS Card to purchase groceries online. A list of stores accepting online purchases can be found on the SNAP Online Purchasing Program Pilot webpage.
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.
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
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and NE Pennsylvania
H & J Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank
Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County
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.
On March 13, the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) issued an emergency order prohibiting terminations for electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications and steam service for utilities subject to the PUC's jurisdiction. This order was modified by the Commission on October 8, 2020, to allow utilities to begin terminating utility accounts in certain circumstances. Enhanced consumer protections were enacted to assist residential customers and small businesses.
The PUC has temporarily adopted new safeguards for "protected customers" – those residential households hardest hit by the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19, along with aid for small businesses. Utilities may not terminate residential consumers with incomes at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG), as long as the customer applies for all assistance programs they are eligible to apply for and they request a payment arrangement from the utility.
Utilities must offer an 18-month payment arrangement to small business customers. A small business customer that remains current on its payment arrangement and current bill will not have their services terminated.
If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your utility service provider right away. You are encouraged to do this before your bill becomes past due.
- Ask your utility whether they offer a customer assistance program (CAP), especially if there have been recent changes in your household size or income. CAPs can provide reduced monthly bills and/or debt forgiveness. Even if you did not qualify for CAP in the past, you may now be eligible.
- If you are a utility customer on a CAP and you experienced further reductions in household income, check with your utilities to determine whether you qualify for additional assistance or more favorable payment options.
- Discuss your financial situation with your utilities before bills become delinquent to explore other possible options – this could include extended payment plans, budget billing, utility hardship fund grants and/or assistance through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the federal Lifeline program (telecommunications and broadband access funding support to eligible low income individuals or households). To learn more about LIHEAP, visit https://www.compass.state.pa.us/compass.web/Public/CMPHome/
Learn more about the services offered by the PUC at www.puc.pa.gov or by calling 1-800-692-7380.
For information from the federal government regarding help that may be available, please visit usa.gov/help-with-bills or call 1-844-USA-GOV1 (1-844-872-4681).
Families who need child care can find a certified child care provider online at www.findchildcare.pa.gov now that all open and operating child care providers are listed online. Child care providers can enroll school-age children during hours where the school district is not offering traditional in-person school services.
Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs) can help working families find open child care centers. ELRCs can assist families with applying for Child Care Works, Pennsylvania's subsidized child care program, or finding other community resources they may need during this time, such as food pantries.
Locate your closest ELRC at www.raiseyourstar.org.
Child care providers that are open or are preparing to open must follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for child care that remains open as well as FAQs around Secretary Levine's Order for Universal Face Covering. Parents are encouraged to review this guidance, so they understand mitigation efforts to help keep children and staff safe. Data on cases of COVID-19 among staff and individuals at child care providers can be viewed on DHS's website. The information has been tracked since March 19.
If you are unable to make your rent payment, contact your landlord immediately and try to work out an agreement.
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
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.
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.
The federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program gives Pennsylvania funding to provide an extra $300 a week in additional funds to individuals that are unemployed (or partially unemployed) because of COVID-19. This benefit is available for a limited number of weeks.
To be Eligible for the LWA Program
- You must be fully or partially unemployed due to COVID-19, and
- You must have a weekly benefit rate + dependent allowance totaling $100 or more, and
- You must receive a payment each week from an unemployment program.
Learn more about the LWA program and how to certify by visiting the LWA page.
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.
Comprehensive Resource: https://www.pa.gov/guides/mental-health/
Support and Referral Helpline: 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 Support & Referral Helpline can be reached toll-free, 24/7 at 1-855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600).
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs' Get Help Now Helpline, 1-800-662-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, provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations for individuals with a substance use disorder or their loved ones. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Mental Health in PA offers additional 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
The IRS is offering tax help for taxpayers, businesses, tax-exempt organizations and others – including health plans – affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).