Pandemic unemployment benefits are ending. Here’s how to get help in Pa. | Tuesday Morning Coffee

This week is the last week that jobless Americans will receive an extra $300 in payments. Here’s where to go to get help if you need it

August 31, 2021 7:13 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

A trio of federal programs that served as a lifeline for the jobless during the pandemic are set to coming to an end. And as they wind down, there are still plenty of places that Pennsylvanians in need can turn to for help, state officials said Monday.

The programs: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) are all set to end on Sept. 6. And while some people may qualify for extended benefits, according to CNBC, all will lose the extra $300 per-week in benefits that were paid out in addition to state-level benefits.

“Many families, through no fault of their own, have seen their incomes decreased or lost entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn,” state Department of Human Services Deputy Secretary Inez Titus said in a statement her agency released Monday.

“While the federal unemployment programs may be ending, anyone who is still struggling to make ends meet or needs assistance should know that help is available,” Titus continued.

Pennsylvanians can take advantage of a number of programs offered through the Human Services Department. They include:

  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP);
  • Medicaid;
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and,
  • Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care.

Titus said her agency is “here to help people pay their bills and stabilize their housing situation as we work to emerge from this unprecedented crisis.” And that “there is no shame in asking for help when we need it.”

Applications for rental assistance, Medicaid, SNAP and other programs can be submitted online via Telephone applications for SNAP and Medical Assistance (as Medicaid is known Pennsylvania) can be submitted by calling 1-866-550-4355.

In addition, “on-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are now available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties,” officials said in a statement.

People who need health insurance, but who do not qualify for Medicaid, can explore their coverage options though the state’s health insurance exchange, officials said.

Jobless workers demonstrate in Miami Springs in support of continued federal unemployment benefits in the pandemic economy. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The state’s regular unemployment compensation (UC) program is not affected by the end of the federal program, but “claimants should be aware that their weekly payments will be reduced by up to $300 due to the end of the FPUC program, and the number of weeks of eligibility for UC will be limited to 26 after the end of the federal PEUC extension program,” officials said.

In addition, “weeks of unemployment after Sept. 4, 2021, are not eligible for payments under these programs. Individuals who continue to be unemployed after Sept. 4 and are not eligible for payments under UC will no longer receive unemployment benefit payments. These individuals are encouraged to review the list of resources here,” officials said.

Additional resources for job-hunters can be found here.

“We have been partnering with the Department of Human Services and other organizations to build a library of resources that includes food, housing, and utility support,” state Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in a statement.

“We’ve been working to get this list into the hands of the individuals who will no longer be eligible to receive unemployment benefits next week when the special pandemic provisions through the federal government come to an end,” Berrier added.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Though it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature, a package of bills requiring universal indoor masking for Pennsylvania’s K-12 schools and childcare programs is in the works, Marley Parish reports.

A Republican political hopeful from the Lehigh Valley has threatened to bring “20 strong men” into school board meetings and demand that elected officials who back mask mandates either “leave or…be removed.” Stephen Caruso has the story.

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the federal eviction moratorium, the a court-imposed eviction moratorium for some Philadelphia renters will remain in place along with other city-backed protections, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

Thanks to a new pilot program, the Allegheny County Port Authority says it will start allowing e-bikes on Pittsburgh-area transit vehicles, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: A housing law expert explains the ground-level impact of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium. And columnist Trish Zornio, of our sibling site, Colorado Newsline, says teaching was already hard enough — but the pandemic made it nearly impossible, so she quit.

LOUISVILLE, KY – MARCH 17: A teacher walks among the the masked students sitting in a socially distanced classroom session at Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Today marks the reopening of Jefferson County Public Schools for in-person learning with new COVID-19 procedures in place. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Polls show that voters support mask and vaccine mandates, but some Pa. Republicans are campaigning against them, the Inquirer reports.

The state’s COVID-19 case surge may be slowing, the Post-Gazette reports.

Meanwhile, as cases rise in central Pennsylvania, area restaurants are hoping they don’t see a drop-off in business, PennLive reports (paywall).

A state House bill would allow teens to get vaccinated without their parents’ consent, WESA-FM reports (via WITF-FM).

The Morning Call has more on that GOP political hopeful from the Lehigh Valley who threatened to bring ‘strong men’ into local school boards.

Officials in Luzerne County say they’re working with the state to resolve issues around the county’s Children & Youth Agency, the Citizens’ Voice reports (paywall).

Facilities issues were front and center the day before Philadelphia schools were set to reopen, WHYY-FM reports.

More than two-thirds of newly majority-minority counties are in the reports.

Former state Rep. Babette Josephs, a Philadelphia Democrat, has died, aged 81. She’s being remembered as a progressive leaderCity & State Pa. reports.

In a new billboard campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to tie U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, to former President Donald TrumpPoliticsPA reports.

Congressional Republicans are prepping a ‘barrage’ of Afghanistan-related amendments to a major defense appropriations bill, Roll Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
9:30 a.m., 205 Ryan: House Urban Affairs Committee
10 a.m., Capitol Steps: Overdose Awareness Day rally
12 p.m., IBEW Local 375, Allentown:House Democratic Policy Committee

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Steph Hardman-Dicks, executive director of the Allegheny County delegation for House Democrats, who celebrates today. Congratulations, and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s a new favorite from singer/songwriter Jade Bird, it’s ‘Now is the Time.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
You will doubtless be shocked to learn that Baltimore dropped another one on Monday, losing 7-3 to the JaysThe Os are a preposterously awful 42.5 games out of first place as the season heads into its final stretch.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.