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Wolf Administration Reminds Out-of-Work Pennsylvanians of Available State Assistance

12/07/2020

Harrisburg, PA – With two federal pandemic unemployment programs set to expire at the end of this month, the Departments of Labor & Industry (L&I) and Human Services (DHS) want Pennsylvanians to know there are other state assistance programs available. Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs will end December 31 if Congress fails to pass an extension.

"Approximately 500,000 Pennsylvanians will lose their unemployment payments if the federal PUA and PEUC programs are allowed to end," said L&I Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier. "Many workers unemployed due to COVID-19 have never faced unemployment hardship before and may be vulnerable to continued job loss. We want to make sure out-of-work Pennsylvanians are aware there are other supports and services available beyond unemployment benefits, especially during the holidays and upcoming winter months."

DHS' programs are designed to help eligible Pennsylvanians who have lost income or employment meet essential needs until they are able to start work again. Public assistance programs help ensure that individuals and families can access health care, have enough food to eat, and can pay utilities – things everyone needs to stay healthy and safe and succeed in the workforce.

"Our public assistance network exists to help people during times like what we currently face. They can be a lifeline that makes sure that people can go to the doctor, have enough to eat, or pay their utilities as other bills and needs arise," said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. "These programs can be a bridge that provides security while you prepare for your next step. It's ok to use it for a few months so you know your health and essential needs will be covered during that period. No matter what is ahead, you do not have to go through this alone."

Programs include:

  • Medicaid;
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program,
  • Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care; and,
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Applications for SNAP, Medicaid, and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Those who prefer to submit paper documentation can print from the website or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or place it in a CAO's secure drop box, if available. You do not need to know your own eligibility in order to apply. While CAOs remain closed, work processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues. Clients should use COMPASS or the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app to submit necessary updates to their case files while CAOs are closed.

Pennsylvanians who need health insurance who do not qualify for Medicaid can explore coverage options through Pennie, the commonwealth's health insurance exchange. Open enrollment for 2021 plans continues through January 15, 2021. Pennsylvanians can learn more at www.pennie.com.

For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.

For more information on public assistance programs, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

PUA and PEUC were created by Congress in March as part of the federal CARES Act in response to an unprecedented surge in national unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"L&I will keep advocating for a continuation or replacement of the federal pandemic unemployment programs because we know how vital this support is to Pennsylvanians and their families," added Berrier. "If Congress acts, we are ready to quickly and efficiently implement an extension or a new program to help these out-of-work Pennsylvanians."

For the latest pandemic-related information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit "Responding to COVID-19" on pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Sarah DeSantis, L&I – dlipress@pa.gov 
                                 Erin James, DHS – ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov
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