Presentation on theme: "Welfare Advocacy Louise Hayes Community Legal Services (215) 227-4734 For help: Welfare Law Line (215) 227-6485."— Presentation transcript:
Welfare Advocacy Louise Hayes Community Legal Services (215) 227-4734 LHayes@clsphila.org For help: Welfare Law Line (215) 227-6485
Agenda Intro to Community Legal Services True/False Quiz Advocacy and Appeals Overview of Cash Assistance Eligibility Overview of Food Stamps Eligibility
True/False Quiz 1.Anyone who is poor enough can get cash assistance from the welfare office. 2.The welfare office has special rules to help people who have experienced domestic violence. 3.The welfare office can cut off a person’s benefits if she tries to get the paperwork requested by the welfare office but can’t get it.
True/False Quiz Continued 4.You can keep your benefits going for months after a cutoff if you appeal quickly enough. 5.Most people who appeal a welfare decision win.
Application Process For cash, food stamps, and Medicaid Apply at welfare office (“CAO”), by fax or mail, or online: www.compass.state.pa.us CAO must screen for expedited FS immediately Interview needed for cash & FS (in-person for cash) Need to provide proof of (“verify”) statements on application CAO must approve or deny application within 30 days If denied, APPEAL!
Verification Tips No one document needed – be creative! Ask DPW to make a “collateral contact” (that is, a phone call) Submit a sworn statement Is the verification needed at all? Don’t refuse to provide verification. Generally, they can’t deny as long as you’re cooperating. Keep a copy of everything you turn in.
Keep Benefits Coming Semi-annual report form every 6 months Redetermination every 6-12 months Report changes, esp. change of address, by 10 th day of the month after the change To report changes: Call the Change Center at (215) 560-PCAO (7226), or CAO office. Appeal any cut-off notice within 13 days.
Tips for Welfare Advocates Keep a copy of anything you give the CAO, & get a receipt Know the rules: www.dpw.state.pa.uswww.dpw.state.pa.us Search for “Policy Handbooks & Manuals” Keep calling! Go up the chain of command Keep good records
Tips for Welfare Advocates cont’d Try another route E.g., Customer Svc Center, (215) 560-7226 Community Services, (215) 560-2547 Put things in writing Develop a relationship Appeal! Contact Community Legal Services or the Welfare Law Line (215 227-6485)
Fighting the System Our motto: APPEAL NOW, THINK LATER Why? Get a neutral decision if can’t work things out Buy time! Can submit proof CAO wants any time until scheduled hearing. Have time to get the paperwork and/or legal help.
Deadlines for Appeals To keep benefits coming: 13 days from date of notice For cash and MA: 30 days For food stamps: 90 days
How to Appeal Fill out form on back of notice If no notice, ask for form at front desk, or use ours Keep copy Hand it in or mail it certified Get and keep receipt
Cash from the Welfare Office There were two programs with mostly the same rules: TANF: for families with children living with them and pregnant women (TANF = Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) General Assistance (GA): for people who couldn’t get TANF and who fit into one of several categories – ELIMINATED 7/31/12
General Assistance Categories ( cash ended 7/31/12; still in effect for MA) People with a disability (best category -- no time limit) –Need doctor to fill out Employability Assessment Form In a drug & alcohol treatment program that precludes work (9 months only) Receiving domestic violence services (9 months only)
Tips for People Who Have Lost GA Apply for SSI if you are disabled. Tell medical providers you can’t afford co-pays – they must provide care or meds anyway (though can bill you). Can get a zero payment plan for criminal fines/costs. Tell your story: PACaresforAll.org
Income & Resource Limits for TANF Resource limit is $1,000 Income limit is monthly grant amount: 1 person: $2053 people:$403 2 people:$3164 people:$497 People on SSI and their income don’t count. People on TANF (but not GA) may get 50% “earned income disregard.” Almost all other income reduces grant dollar-for-dollar.
Special Help for Victims of Domestic Violence If you are, or have been, a victim of domestic violence, the CAO can excuse you from its rules. The CAO can excuse you from: –Work rules –Child support cooperation –Time limit –Other rules if necessary Proving domestic violence is easy – CAO form.
Food Stamps Almost all low-income people are eligible Issued to “households” who live together and purchase and prepare food together. –Exception: kids under age 22 must be in same household with parents they live with Income limit is 160% of poverty (200% if someone is elderly or disabled) –$1,490 (or $1,862) per month for 1 person Asset limit (as of 5/1/12). $5,500 for most, $9K for elderly/disabled.
How Much in Food Stamps Will I Get? Depends on household size, income, and certain expenses, esp. shelter expenses Use computation sheet Under “Heat & Eat” policy, almost everyone should credit for $536 utilities cost.
Emergency Food Stamps Can get “expedited” (emergency) FS within 5 days of application if: –Have <$100 on hand and <$150 in gross monthly income, or –Shelter costs (incl. $536 SUA) exceed monthly income and cash on hand. No verification needed except for ID. Still need to complete process for ongoing FS. And can’t get expedited FS again if don’t do so.