With many families and individuals in Pennsylvania heavily impacted by COVID-19, The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is working to make sure that families are receiving additional support at this time. Many people may see changes to their benefits, and several programs have been expanded to help keep families secure and safe during this time.
Several temporary changes have been made to the SNAP program to help households in need. Most recipients of SNAP should see an increase in the amount of food stamps they get. The SNAP-CARES Act allowed the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to give one-time issuances (OTI) to all households receiving SNAP for March, April, and May 2020. These OTI bring payments for each month up to the maximum amount of food stamps allowed per household size, regardless of income. Unfortunately, households already receiving the maximum amount will not see any increase. The maximum amounts for each household size and schedule of SNAP payments are listed here.
SNAP renewal due dates for March through June 2020 have also been extended to September through December 2020. Households that this applies to should have received a notice in the mail, but more information can be found here.
SNAP benefits will also be provided to any households with children who would normally be eligible for free or reduced lunches at school through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT). These benefits will be issued through June 12, starting from March 16, in the amount of $5.70 per school day per child for as many days during that time that they would be eligible. Eligible children will receive this benefit even if their households are not currently receiving SNAP. More information about how these benefits are being issued can be found here.
Emergency Cash Assistance
An Emergency Cash Assistance program has also been implemented. In order to qualify for this program, you must have a child under the age of 18 or be pregnant; have been employed as of March 11, 2020, and must have experienced at least a 50% reduction of hours or loss of employment; and meet income limits of 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and have no more than $1,000 in a savings or checking account. Find out more about the payment amounts per household size and the link for applying here.
For those not already aware, Unemployment Compensation (UC) has also been expanded. Through the CARE Act, payments have been increased by $600 a month to all UC recipients and eligibility requirements have been expanded to include more of those who have been impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, UC benefits are being extended 13 weeks beyond the traditional 26 weeks of payments. More information about these changes can be found here.
Other potential financial benefits are under discussion, but for now, these options are currently available to all eligible Pennsylvania residents to help during this time of high unemployment and financial instability. To apply for state benefits, visit compass.state.pa.us to see all the programs available and eligibility requirements.
If you are an immigrant and need assistance accessing any of these services, please contact the Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC) program to get help. Call 412-742-4200, email [email protected] or submit a referral online at isacpittsburgh.org. Our service coordinators will assist you in the language with which you are most comfortable.