Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller yesterday discussed application and enrollment trends for public assistance programs and reminded Pennsylvanians that public assistance programs are still available. Anyone who may need assistance with buying groceries, accessing health care, and affording other basic necessities are encouraged to apply for assistance.
Miller also discussed the need for support from the federal government to continue flexibilities authorized under state and federal disaster declarations that ensure continuity of benefits during the uncertain economic climate.
“Even as we reopen, it is not going to get easier right away, but we must do all we can to mitigate the long-term harm that could come from this time, particularly on those who already experience health and economic challenges more acutely,” said Miller. “Public assistance programs can be a resource to help people who have lost a job or a significant portion of their income or work a low-wage job make sure they can meet essential needs, and I want all Pennsylvanians to know that they do not have to weather this time alone.”
DHS’ programs are designed to help Pennsylvanians who have lost income or employment meet basic needs until they are able to start work again. Programs include Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). DHS has also received approval to provide additional supports created specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program.
Pennsylvanians who have experienced a change in income or job loss, regardless of its relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, can apply for benefits online at any time at www.compass.state.pa.us. Those who prefer to submit paper documentation can print or call for a paper application and either mail the application to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or place it in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. While CAOs remain closed for in-person services, many services are still available online or by phone, and they continue to process applications, determine eligibility, and issue benefits. Clients should use COMPASS or the MyCOMPASS PA mobile app to submit necessary updates to their case files while CAOs are closed.
Enrollment has increased for both Medicaid and SNAP in the month of May, though May’s increase was less than the increase from March to April. Overall application numbers are down 40 percent, but DHS has been approved to extend annual SNAP renewals and not disenroll people from Medicaid, which has contributed to the increased enrollment numbers.