The Department of Social Services provides an update on the latest medical assistance, SNAP registration data and announces the extension of the LIHEAP 2020-21 season

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Department of Social Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today provided an update on public assistance enrollment numbers in February 2021 and reminded Pennsylvanians that safety net programs such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Cash Assistance, Medical Assistance (MA) and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is available for individuals and families who struggle to feed themselves, cover basic expenses, access health care and pay heating bills. Secretary Miller also announced that the 2020-2021 LIHEAP season is extended and will now accept applications until April 30, 2021.

“Our public assistance network is designed to be a lifeline that ensures people can go to the doctor, have enough to eat, or pay for their utilities when other bills and needs arise, even in our most pressing times. difficult, ”Secretary Miller said. “No one should feel like they have to endure the stress, anxiety and uncertainty that many have gone through in the past year alone. Hope is before us, but there are still great needs in our communities. If you or someone you know might need a helping hand, please let us try to help you so that we can come out of this crisis together. “

Statewide enrollment for the master’s degree has increased by 388,615 since February 2020, for a total enrollment of 3,220,178 as of February 2021, an increase of 13.7%.

Pennsylvanians who have lost their health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves or their children may be eligible for coverage through the AD or the National Health Insurance program. children (CHIP). MA and CHIP cover routine and emergency health services, testing and screening, and prescriptions, and COVID-19 testing and treatment is covered by both MA and CHIP. MA and CHIP enroll individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special enrollment period, so those in need of medical coverage can apply for these programs at any time. There are income limits for MA, but all uninsured children are eligible for full health, vision and dental coverage through CHIP, regardless of their parents’ income.

Statewide SNAP enrollments have increased by 71,440 since February 2020, for a total of approximately 1,808,899 enrolled in February 2021, an increase of 4.1%. Unlike the steady growth in AD enrollments since the start of the pandemic, SNAP enrollments have seen both increases and decreases, including a slight decrease every month since September 2020.

SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians buy fresh food and groceries, helping families with limited or strained resources be able to keep food on the table while meeting other bills and needs. Inadequate diet and chronic nutritional deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks of chronic disease, higher risks of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased costs of patients. health care. As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, access to basic needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate accompanying health risks.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is no longer considered income for people applying for SNAP eligibility. This opens up SNAP as a potential option to help more people who have lost income or jobs due to the pandemic.

Assistance for home energy bills is also available through LIHEAP. LIHEAP helps eligible people pay their home heating bills so they don’t have to choose between staying warm and safe during the winter months and facing unaffordable home energy bills. Assistance is available for tenants and landlords, and LIHEAP can help with both normal bills and emergency situations like broken heating equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced, lack of fuel, or risk of termination. without the current moratorium on shutting down public services.

Pennsylvanians who are struggling to pay their utility bills or have an emergency are strongly encouraged to see if LIHEAP can help avoid racking up unpaid bills which can be difficult to pay when the blackout moratorium is in effect. utilities ends. The LIHEAP applications opened on November 2, 2020 and were originally scheduled to end on April 9, 2021. The LIHEAP season will now run until April 30, 2021.

“This winter has brought one of the most difficult times in this pandemic so far, and we know economic circumstances have likely strained people into dire circumstances,” Secretary Miller said. “The extension of the LIHEAP season gives people in need more time to request and use the help available to cover bills and unpaid expenses. Don’t be afraid to ask for this help so you don’t have to face heavy bills or a utility termination when the moratorium on shutting down utilities expires. This program exists to help get through tough times – let’s help our entire Commonwealth overcome the one we still face. “

Applications for SNAP, Cash Assistance, MA, LIHEAP, Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and other public assistance programs providing cash assistance can be submitted online at www. compass.state.pa.us. For those who prefer to submit a paper application, options are available. Although our County Assistance Offices (CAD) will remain closed, paper requests are available for pickup. Applications can also be printed from the website or requested by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mailed to their local CAD or placed in a CAD’s secure drop box, if available. You don’t need to know your own eligibility to apply. While OACs remain closed, the work of processing claims, determining eligibility and paying benefits continues. Customers should use COMPASS or the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app to submit necessary updates to their records while CAD is closed to the public.

For more information on food aid resources for people around Pennsylvania affected by COVID-19 and the economic insecurity that accompanies it, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Guide.

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

CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Erin James – [email protected]

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