While our physical doors may be shut, our virtual ones are open for business! NLS is again accepting applications via our online intake, available by clicking the Get Legal Help button, or telephone at 1-866-761-6572. Please be aware that it may take several days for staff to return calls as they are all working remotely.
On August 3rd, Biden announced that the CDC has extended the eviction moratorium until October 3 in those areas in which Covid-19 spread is substantial or high. As of August 4th, the spread in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence County is listed as substantial. To keep up to date on whether your county is qualified for the eviction moratorium extension visit https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view. This extension gives all tenants who can qualify for federal ERAP assistance a chance to apply, or to have their applications continue to be processed. They can find directions to apply on line at DHS website.
Update: You Can Now Report Monthly Wages for Social Security Online
- Recipients of Social Security Disability Benefits (SSI and SSDI) can now report their monthly earnings online rather than taking check stubs to their local office. You can report your wages using your personal and secure my Social Security account. On your desktop, laptop, or mobile device, you can report wages if you:
-Receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
-Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
-Receive both SSDI benefits and SSI.
-Are a representative payee.
-Are a spouse or parent who lives with a person who receives SSI.
- Allegheny County Court of Commons Pleas The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently released a temporary amendment to the emergency operation plan of Allegheny County that will be in effect until February 26th, 2021. To read more about this emergency order click here. Of note to our clients: in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County, housing court motions are limited to emergency motions; all landlord/tenant arbitrations will be rescheduled; the Family Law Center is closed to the public and temporary PFAs are being issued from the Municipal Court, 660 First Avenue; and all Allegheny County Magisterial District Court cases are postponed and all Orders for Eviction or Possession are stayed (stopped for now). The Court has issued FAQS on Landlord-Tenant issues during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Lawrence County - The President Judge extended the Declaration of Judicial Emergency with regard to any trials thought May 31, 2020. Family Motion court will resume April 24, 2020 via Zoom video conference. Temporary PFA’s may be filed. All other business will resume as usual on May 4, 2020, unless the Supreme Court orders otherwise.
- Butler County - Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Order dated April 1, 2020, the Butler County explanatory memo dated March 20, is extended until May 1, 2020. Family Motions Court will be conducted via teleconferencing as needed. All Motions may be transmitted via fax or email to chambers or to court administration at email@example.com with the original mailed or filed with the Prothonotary. EMERGENCY MOTIONS should be faxed or emailed to chambers or firstname.lastname@example.org with the original mailed or filed with the Prothonotary after notice is provided to opposing counsel/party, and the court will review the motion to determine if, in fact, it is an emergency. If it is an emergency, the court will schedule oral argument as soon as is possible via telephone if all parties are represented by counsel, and in person if there are self-represented parties. If available, all parties may participate via telephone conference (on the record).
- Beaver County - All filing deadlines are extended to May 1, 2020. There are drop boxes inside the main entrance of the courthouse for essential filings and mail and electronic filing is also available. All existing custody orders and schedules are to be followed. Emergency Motions may be heard by Judge DeCostro and telephone testimony. Contact her chambers for information. Persons needing to file temporary Protection from Abuse petitions should appear at the PFA office on the second floor of the courthouse before 9:30 am. Writs of Possession are being accepted by the Prothonotary but cannot be acted upon until May 1. Entry to the courthouse is limited to those who have a justifiable reason to enter. The Sheriff is enforcing this restriction.
- For more County and State Judicial Orders – http://www.pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information
- If you are out of work or lost hours because of the current public health crisis, you may qualify for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation benefits. Apply online at www.uc.pa.gov or call the statewide number 1-888-313-7284. For additional information, need help applying for benefits or were denied benefits, NLS may be able to help. Click here for our informational flyer.
- Click Here for presentation that contains an overview of unemployment benefits during Covid-19.
- Haven't received anything in the mail after filing for unemployment? Click here to help troubleshoot why that might be.
- How Have Custody Exchanges Changed During the Time of COVID-19? Click here to find answers to frequently asked questions.
- How Can You Support Your Child During COVID-19? Click here to find helpful resources and learn how you can discuss this difficult topic with your child.
- How Can You Prioritize Self-Care During COVID-19? Click here for strategies on how to boost your productivity and strike a healthy work-life balance.
Public Benefit Resources
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently changed their rules about how the pandemic-related financial assistance can affect an individual's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA has decided they will not count most types of pandemic-related financial assistance against SSI eligibility or benefit amount. Click here more more information.
- Extra SNAP Benefits are coming! EVERYONE who gets SNAP is getting extra benefits, called “emergency allotments” (EAs) and can spend them without worry. EAs are to help with food costs during the pandemic. To learn more click here.
- Starting now, SSI and Social Security recipients who haven't gotten their $500 stimulus payments per dependent child have a new chance to get the payments. Click here for more information.
- The Benefits Launch PA Hotline offers Free one-on-one support to help residents of Greater Pittsburgh region enroll in public benefits that will help you afford: prescription drugs, groceries, health insurance, property taxes and disability benefits. Click here to learn more.
- Have you lost income during the Covid-19 crisis? There is a new Emergency Assistance program starting May 11th through DHS, which offers cash assistance to people affected by this crisis. To see if you qualify click here for more information.
The Department of Human Services has issued guidance in response to the COVID-19 emergency about continuing Medical Assistance coverage. Anyone who had Medical Assistance, Long Term Care Medical Assistance, or Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver coverage on or after March 18, 2020 cannot have their coverage terminated until the end of the public health emergency. If someone had benefits on March 18th and those benefits were terminated, their coverage should be reinstated. Timelines for appeals have also been extended – the CAOs will accept Medical Assistance appeals filed within 90 days of the date of the notice being appealed. There is an operations memo from the Department of Human Services which explains this.
Additionally, people receiving services through one of the Home and Community Based Services waiver programs may not have their services reduced during the public health emergency. A letter from DHS was issued to the Community HealthChoices MCOs about the temporary changes to the Community HealthChoices waiver.
- All County Assistance Offices are closed to the public at this time. Applications, renewals, and other documents can still be submitted the following ways: COMPASS (www.compass.state.ps.us) or the myCOMPASS mobile app; US mail to the applicable office address; put items in the CAO dropbox (if there is one); or call 1-866-550-4355 to complete a Medical Assistance application via phone. EBT cards can be obtained by calling 888-328-7366. If you have questions or information to report about your case record, please call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.
- All local Social Security Administration offices are closed to the public.
- Pennsylvania's Utility Law Project (PULP) developed a series of flyers with information about utility assistance across PA:
- Pennsylvania's Utility Law Project (PULP) created an informational flyer about eligibility, benefits, and FAQs for the Emergency Rental (And Utility!) Assistance Program.
- Duquesne Light is holding two telephonic public input hearings on whether or not to increase it's rates on June 22nd. There are informational graphics about this in English and Spanish. If you are a resident in Allegheny, or Beaver and would like to provide input at this June 22nd hearing you can sign up for a time slot online at this link: https://duquesnelight.com/public-input-hearings
- PA launches emergency rental assistance program (ERAP)! Effective today, Pennsylvanians can submit applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program online at www.compass.state.pa.us. The online application is available in English and Spanish. The program will end when all funds have been expended, which DHS expects to happen by September 2021. More information about ERAP can be found at www.dhs.pa.gov.
- The Allegheny County rental assistance program, administered by Action Housing, will open its website for tenant and landlord applications on Monday, March 15, 2021. All applications must be submitted online, although there will be 7 centers city-wide for folks who don’t have online access to obtain assistance for doing so. The application website is https://covidrentrelief.alleghenycounty.us/. If you want to learn more about the Allegheny County Emergency Rental Assistance Program., you can attend a Town Hall that will provide an overview of the program and the application process, with additional time for questions and answers. To learn more about this Town Hall click here.
- The Utility Moratorium will end March 31st, 2021! On March 11th, the Utility commission voted to lift the moratorium on utility terminations. As part of its Order today, the Commission required utilities to offer consumers an extended payment arrangement based on household income – up to five years for households with income at/below 250% FPL. If a customer defaults on a utility-issued payment arrangement, they can get a payment arrangement from the Public Utility Commission by calling 800-692-7380. For the duration of the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation, the Order permits the PUC to issue a second payment arrangement if the customer defaults on their first Commission-issued payment arrangement. Of course, the first course of action for someone facing termination – before agreeing to a payment arrangement – is to enroll in an assistance program that can help eliminate utility debts! For more information visit Pennsylvania's Utility Law Project (PULP).
- Do you know your rights as renter against utility shut offs during a pandemic? Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP) developed a series of helpful infographics and fact sheets about important protections for renters:
-Click here for a LIHEAP fact sheet in English and Spanish.
-Click here to learn your rights as a renter against utility shutoffs. Click here for a printable version.
-Click here for a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 2020-2021 Pennsylvania Advocates Manual
-Click here for information about your rights and protections as a renter from utility shutoffs.
- On June 29th, 2020 PHFA opened applications for a new rental and mortgage assistance program funded through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.
-To view applications and apply for funds click here
-To view an FAQ about rental relief click here
-To view a fact sheet about mortgage relief click here
- If you're among those financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you might be concerned about how to pay for your mortgage or rent. Federal and state governments, as well as financial institutions and loan services, have announced plans to help struggling homeowners during this time. Click here for more information.
- Click here for a list of Rental Assistance Referrals in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence.
- Have you fallen behind paying your utility bills? You may be eligible for up to $800 to help. Starting Monday, May 18th, Pennsylvania will accept applications for its new LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program. Click here to learn more.
- The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh suspended all evictions except for those with serious public safety implications. – https://pittsburghpa.gov/press-releases/press-releases.html?id=3734
- Columbia Gas, Duquesne Light, and Peoples Gas have suspended service shut-offs until at least May 1. – https://pittsburghpa.gov/press-releases/press-releases.html?id=3734
- The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority extended its shut-off moratorium until May 31 and waived income qualification criteria. – https://www.pgh2o.com/news-events/news/press-release/2020-03-13-pwsa-extends-expands-shut-moratorium-response-covid-19
- Pennsylvania American Water has also ceased shut-offs – “In an effort to keep our customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania American Water will be placing a moratorium and discontinuing service shut-offs at this time. We will continue to evaluate this moratorium as more information becomes available. Additionally, Pennsylvania American Water will begin the restoration of service to previously shut-off customers. The restoration may take some time, but we will work as quickly and safely as possible. If your service has been turned off, prior to March 12, 2020, we will restart your service.” – https://amwater.com/paaw/
- Wilkinsburg Penn Joint Water Authority – has enacted a self-imposed moratorium on shutting off customer water service starting Monday, March, 16th 2020.
- The PA Public Utility Commission has signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication, and steam utility terminations. The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the disaster proclamation issued by Gov. Tom Wolf related to the coronavirus is in effect. – http://www.puc.pa.gov/about_puc/press_releases.aspx?ShowPR=4326
- If you do not usually file an income tax return you are still eligible to receive the $1,200 economic stimulus payment. Simply visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments which will take you to a special "efile site" in which you will be able to apply. Information to have on hand for the process includes but is not limited to: full name, current mailing address and an email address, date of birth, valid Social Security number and bank account information, if you have one. [Caution: Using this tool to obtain the EIP now will prohibit the user from later e-filing a standard tax return for 2019. Because low-income taxpayers may, in addition to the EIP, be eligible for a tax refund (due to over-withholding or a refundable credit), they may instead want to obtain their automatic EIP by filing their regular 2019 return with the
IRS’s free file program.]
- NCLC is temporarily giving free online access to their excellent book: Surviving Debt.
- COVID-19 Testing Available at Community Health Clinics in Allegheny County
PITTSBURGH – Testing for COVID-19 is now available at federally qualified health centers in Allegheny County and through Pittsburgh Mercy, a certified community behavioral health clinic.
The tests will be offered at no charge, and patients do not need a doctor’s referral. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested.
Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. This is not a list of all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
To schedule an appointment, visit http://alleghenycovidtesting.com/ or call the clinic nearest you.
Participating health clinics include:
Health Clinic Address, Phone Number Alma Illery Medical Center (Homewood) 7227 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh 15208
Braddock Family Health Center 404 Braddock Avenue, Braddock 15104
East End Family Health Center 117 North Negley Avenue, Pittsburgh 15206
East Liberty Family Health Care Center 6023 Harvard Street, Pittsburgh 15206
Hazelwood Family Health Center 4918 Second Avenue, Pittsburgh 15207
Hill House Health Center 1835 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh 15219
McKeesport Family Health Center 627 Lysle Boulevard, McKeesport 15132
Metro Community Health Center 1789 South Braddock Avenue, Suite 410, Swissvale 15218
North Side Christian Health Center 816 Middle Street, Pittsburgh 15201
Northview Heights Clinic 525 Mt. Pleasant Road, Pittsburgh 15212
Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center
249 South 9th Street, Pittsburgh 15203
Squirrel Hill Health Center 4516 Browns Hill Road, Pittsburgh 15217
Steel Valley Family Health Center 1800 West Street, Homestead 15120
Sto-Rox Family Health Center 710 Thompson Avenue, McKees Rocks 15136
West End Health Center 415 Neptune Street, Pittsburgh 15220
Wilkinsburg Health Center 807 Wallace Street, Suite 203, Pittsburgh 15221
- Be aware of COVID-19 Fraud Schemes
- Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network’s
COVID-19 Resource page – https://palegalaid.net/coronavirus-covid-19-information
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/coronavirus/