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Important Information About Pennsylvania General Assistance

Important Information About Pennsylvania General Assistance

Date Posted: 
08/15/2018

The Pennsylvania General Assistance Program Is Ending August 1, 2019

People can still receive and apply for General Assistance (GA) until July 31. For more information about applying for and receiving GA benefits, click here.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will my cash assistance end?   It depends.

  • If you are pregnant or caring for a child who is related to you, your cash assistance should not end.   You are not getting General Assistance.
  • If you are not caring for a child, and your only income is $205 a month from welfare, you are getting General Assistance, or GA.  Your cash assistance will end August 1, 2019.

2. When will my cash assistance end? 

    August 1, 2019.   The Department of Human Services sent out notices to General Assistance recipients on July 1, 2019.  The final two GA payments will be issued in July.  No one will receive GA in August or after that.

3. Is there anything I can do to keep my cash assistance?

A few people who receive General Assistance may be able to qualify for another kind of cash assistance.  You should be able to keep your cash if:

  • You are pregnant; or
  • You are caring for a child you are related to; or
  • You are blind.

If you are in one of these groups, be sure to appeal the cutoff and tell the welfare office why.

4. I’m getting GA for a child in my care.  Is that GA being cut off too?

Maybe, but you should appeal and explain why.  A child can still get cash assistance if he or she is living with a relative.  You do not usually need to prove the relationship.  Also, a child who was receiving cash assistance who moves in with a non-relative during a family crisis can keep his or her cash assistance until the crisis is resolved.

5. Will I lose my SNAP (food stamps) or Medical Assistance? 

No.  You can still get SNAP and Medical Assistance.  If you have no income, you should get $192 a month in SNAP for a single person.

6.  What can I do to get some income if I cannot work?

Apply for SSI, and stick with it.  If you have a long-term serious disability, apply for SSI with the Social Security Administration.  You can start the application by calling (800) 772-1213.  If they turn you down, be sure to appeal – twice.  (The first appeal is called reconsideration.  The second is with a judge.)  This process can take 18 months or more, so start now.

7. Didn’t GA just come back last year?  What happened? 

The Governor and elected officials in Harrisburg eliminated GA in 2012.  In 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the way the program had been ended violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.  As a result, GA came back in 2018.  Now, state officials in Harrisburg have eliminated it again. 

8. What should I do if the welfare office has made a mistake in my case?

  • If you think you should still get cash assistance (because you are pregnant, blind, or living with children), you should appeal the cutoff notice.  Appeal right away.
  • You should also appeal if you have a problem getting $192 in food stamps or if your Medical Assistance is cut off.  Appeal right away.
  • Appealing is easy.  Fill out the form that came with the notice.  Give it to the welfare office.  Keep a copy and get a receipt.

9. How can I go to the doctor, or get my medicines, if I have no money for my co-pays? 

Doctors and pharmacists may not deny you medical care if you cannot afford to pay the Medical Assistance co-payment.  They must still treat you or give you your medicines.  You will still owe the co-pay money, though.  (This rule is at 55 Pa. Code § 1101.63(b)(8).)

10. What if I have a payment agreement with the courts to pay costs and fines?  How will I make payments after GA ends?

If you lose income such as GA, and you have no income, you can ask for a $0 payment plan.  See instructions here.

11. Where can I get help or find out more? 

        If you have questions or want more information, please e-mail GAquestions@clsphila.org or call (267) 443-2600.

       This special e-mail address and phone number will be staffed through August 31, 2019.

       You can get legal help with welfare problems at:

Community Legal Services 
1410 W. Erie Ave.
In person, Mon., Wed., or Fri. 9am-noon                                                   
(215) 227-2400                                                             

or 

Philadelphia Legal Assistance
718 Arch Street, Suite 300N
In person, Mon. or Wed., 9:30 – noon
By phone, Tues. or Thurs. 9:30 - noon 
(215) 981-3800