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Everyone getting SNAP will get lower payments starting March 1, 2023. Keep reading to find out what to do to make sure you get everything you should.
Most households will lose at least $95.00 per month. Your household may lose less or more than $95.00 in March.
Many elderly people on Social Security will remember getting only $20 in SNAP before the pandemic. Most of these people will return to getting only $20, unless they can claim new expenses, mentioned below.
Most other people will get a little more than what they got in 2019 unless they have or can report changes to the agency.
Make sure DCFS has up to date information about your income and bills. During the COVID emergency, DCFS may have given you extra SNAP without getting all of the paperwork and information it usually needs.
Act now to give DCFS the right information about your income and expenses. This can help make sure you get the right amount of SNAP in the future. Do not wait. DCFS may be busy and hard to reach once SNAP lowers in March 2023.
The items listed below can make your SNAP amount go up or down. The list says what information DCFS may need for each item:
There are websites that can help you figure out how much your SNAP amount should be. Use only trustworthy sites. Here is a site you can use: http://www.nolafoodpolicy.org/snapcalculator.
DCFS will send letters in early February telling you how much you will lose in March.
You can send documents through DCFS’ online LA CAFÉ system. You can use this online system at this website: https://sspweb.ie.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/selfserviceJSPController?id=0.1772418717047336&tab=1.
The site will ask you to log into your LA CAFÉ account. If you do not have an LA CAFÉ account, you will need to set one up. You will need to create an LA CAFÉ profile and link your SNAP case. Once you log into LA CAFÉ, the site will show you how to upload your paperwork for DCFS.
You can also send your paperwork to DCFS by mail, fax, or by visiting any DCFS office in person. Keep copies of any paperwork you send to DCFS!
DCFS’ mailing address is:
Department of Children and Family Services ES
Document Processing Center
P.O. Box 260031
Baton Rouge, LA 70826
DCFS’ fax number is 225-663-3164.
Be sure to include your Case ID number or Social Security Number (SSN) on every page so DCFS can match your paperwork to your case.
There is good news for those who did not get the 2021 stimulus payment or the Advanced Child Tax Credit.
People who do not have to file federal income tax forms can now get these 2021 payments without filing a tax return:
Who can use the website?
If you do not need to file a 2021 tax return you can use a website to claim the 2021 stimulus funds or Advanced Child Tax Credits.
Use the website only if all of the things listed below apply to your household:
Who cannot use the new website?
People who must file federal income tax forms for 2021 tax forms cannot use this new option.
People who cannot use the site include:
For example people at these income levels did not need to file federal tax forms
|Single people living alone:||Income under $12,550|
|Married filing jointly:||Income under $25,100|
|Unmarried head of household:||Income under $18,800|
If you are must file a tax return, you can still file a late federal return.
Filing your taxes can get you your Stimulus or Child Tax Credits as tax refunds.
To find out more about whether you should file a tax return, talk with a reputable tax preparer.
You can also use the Form 1040 instructions at www.irs.gov.
You can also use https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return.
How to use the website:
You can claim Stimulus funds or the Child Tax Credit by using a website set up by a nonprofit to help people get their Advanced Child Tax Credit money.
The website is not a government website.
A non-profit group called Code for America designed the website with the IRS.
The website will be up until at least October 15, 2022
The website to use is www.getctc.org.
Be careful to use the correct website.
Never give your personal information to an unknown website.
To use the website, you will need:
You will be asked to prove who you are. There may be questions about credit you have gotten. These are things like a mortgage, student loan, car loan, or credit card.
You can also use a valid driver’s license number to prove who you are.
If you do not have these items, you will be asked to confirm your identity with a secure video call.
Filing for the money usually takes about 15 minutes.
You can have the funds deposited into a bank account or mailed to you.
If you find you cannot use the website, you may want to file a late 2021 Federal tax return to claim your funds.
Low-income persons can get help from a non-profit group called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) in filling out returns.
To find out what VITA programs are near you, you can call 1-800-906-9887, toll free.
If you are 60 years old or older, to find out about help near you, you can also call the AARP 1-888-227-7669, toll free.
Estos pasos pueden ayudarlo a evitar el fraude de contratistas, ser estafado o recibir malas reparaciones en su hogar o propiedad:
Para otro buen recurso sobre estos temas, visite la página de web: https://www.consumidor.ftc.gov/ (Ester recurso está disponible en inglés).
Louisiana ended COVID-related unemployment benefits on July 31, 2021. It ended:
This is aid was called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
You will not get paid for any weeks after July. Your claim has ended. This is true even if you have a benefit balance, or if HIRE shows that your claim would not end until September 4, 2021.
If you filed for any weeks after July 31, You will not be paid for these weeks. You won’t get paid even if the agency says your Hire Account says that your claim is “In Progress.“
You can only get paid if you file a new “claim” for unemployment and you worked enough since the beginning of your last claim.
If you have been getting more than $247 a week in unemployment, you will now get $300 less per week, if you still get unemployment benefits. This is for any weeks after July 31.
Your benefits for August and after will be decided by state law, with no extra $300 a week. There is no longer coverage for
If you lost a job before July 31, you can still file a claim to get these benefits for weeks before August. You can file for this until September 4, 2021.
You can appeal if you were denied these extra benefits for time before August 2021 IF your appeal deadline has not run out. LWC can pay the extra benefits for weeks that were before August.
If you got more than one denial notice, it is important to appeal each notice separately.
If you have already appealed and you are waiting for a hearing, you will get a hearing. If you win, you will get those benefits for weeks before August, 2021.
If you have received a denial, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to give free help with your appeal. To see the ways you can ask for our help, see https://slls.org/get-help/client-services.
Louisiana has often denied unemployment benefits without looking at other ways people can be eligible for the benefits. In the same way, in appeals or fair hearings, the agency often does not look at all ways you can get the benefits.
If this happened to you, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may still be able to help you get unemployment. Even if you lost your appeal. And even though people can no longer apply for PUA in Louisiana.
Our services are free. You can see if we can help by calling 1-844-244-7871, or by applying online here.
If you were disqualified for regular unemployment benefits, you may still be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA.)
PUA was created for claimants who cannot get regular unemployment benefits, like people who are self-employed, work as freelancers. But it also covers many people who are disqualified from regular unemployment benefits.
In Louisiana, all unemployment claims are considered for regular unemployment first. The agency fails to look at PUA for some people who do not get PUA.
In other cases, the agency incorrectly starts some claims as regular unemployment. A claimant may receive several months of benefits under this way before LWC detects the error.
When the error is discovered, LWC sends notice that the claimant is not eligible, and other notices that they owe all the money back.
In many of these cases, the agency fails to check to see if the claim could be paid under PUA.
If your unemployment was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and you have been denied unemployment benefits, but your notices do not say anything about PUA then you still be able to get PAU. Attorneys at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to make sure the agency looks at whether you should get PUA.
Please note, Louisiana ended its PUA program on July 31, 2021. So only people who filed a claim for before then can get this help.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has extended student loan help through at least January, 2022. Depending on your loan you may be eligible for:
This help only applies to ED loans. To see if your loan is an ED loan, go to https://studentaid.gov/help-center/answers/article/is-my-loan-federal-or-private
ED owned student loans are on a temporary payment suspension as of March 13, 2020. This means you don’t have to make monthly payments now. If you made a payment since March 13, 2020, you can request a refund from where you pay.
Bad credit should not be reported during the suspension period even if you choose to try and make payments.
All federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education automatically had their interest rates lowered to 0% from March 13, 2020 until the COVID emergency relief period ends.
Private student loans, Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) loans that are owned by commercial lenders, and Federal Perkins Loans that are owned by schools are not eligible for the reduced interest rate. But you can consolidate these loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, which is eligible for the 0% interest rate. If considering this, consider whether this is the best option long-term once the relief period and the 0% interest rate.
If your loan payments were reduced because of your low income, you do not have to recertify your income during the COVID-19 emergency relief period. If you keep your current address, you will be notified when it is time to recertify. Make sure to keep your contact information updated where you pay your loan.
Some people are trying to rip students off. There is no coronavirus-related loan forgiveness for federal student loans. There is no fee for the payment suspensions or 0% interest rate period from loan servicers or the federal government. If anyone contacts you asking for money to perform any of these services, it is a scam.
The CDC eviction moratorium has been extended until October 3, 2021. You can learn more about your rights as a tenant while the moratorium is in place here. The ban on evictions for nonpayment of rent only applies to communities with "substantial" and "high" levels of community spread of COVID-19. Currently, all parishes in Louisiana fall into this category and so the CDC ban applies. You can check your parish's current status here. Under "7 day totals" you will see a figure that says "XXX per 100k". If the number is higher than 50.99 your parish is covered.
To qualify for protection under the moratorium, you must fill out a declaration form and provide it to your landlord. You can download a copy of the declaration form here.
The federal order banning evictions for nonpayment of rent expires July 31, 2021. We do not expect another extension and there are no local protections in Louisiana. We know this is stressful for tenants. Here are some things you can do if you are worried about eviction after the moratorium ends:
What if I do not feel safe coming to court for my eviction because of COVID-19?
We know that people have concerns about increases in Covid. You have a right to attend your court hearing by computer or smartphone, or other accommodations, if you are a person for whom Covid poses a special risk, such as people with diabetes, heart conditions, etc. If you are denied the right to a remote/virtual hearing, or other requested accommodations, please contact legal services immediately.
In addition, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, you should not go to court because you will risk infecting others. You can request a continuance (postponement) or to attend your hearing by computer or smartphone. You may be able to get free legal aid to assist you with this (see above).
Please note that if you do not show up to your court hearing and do not notify the court that you need an accommodation you will receive a default judgment of eviction, and you will have only 24 hours to move. So you must contact the court (or get your lawyer to contact the court) before the hearing if you are unable to attend for health reasons. You may be able to get free legal aid to assist you with this (see above).
What about when I apply for a new apartment?
If you have rent debt or an eviction on your record due to COVID-19, there is a new law that may help you. House Bill 374 was signed into law as Louisiana Revised Statute 9:3258.1 effective August 1. Under this new law:
You also have a right to contest inaccurate information on your credit report. Here is information about your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can also contact your local legal aid agency for assistance. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ COVID-19 hotline is at 844-244-7871.
What if I get sued for the back rent I owe?
If you get sued for back rent, you may qualify for free legal assistance. You can contact Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ COVID-19 hotline at 844-244-7871, or find your local legal aid provider here.
Check out the US Interagency Council on Homelessness’s guide for people facing eviction here.
Scammers will stop at nothing to attempt to get personal information from vulnerable people looking for help in a crisis. Here are some common COVID-19 related scams and how to protect yourself from them.
Funeral expense scams
If you lost a loved one to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a government program that pays for funeral expenses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses for loved ones who died of COVID-19. Survivors can apply for benefits by contacting FEMA, toll-free, at 844-684-6333. To find out if you qualify, read FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQs, also available in many other languages.
FEMA reports that scammers are contacting people and pretending to offer to register them for funeral expense benefits.
What to do: To avoid government imposter scams, here are some tips:
If you think you got a scam call, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov .
COVID-19 vaccine scams
As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out throughout the country, it is important to be on the lookout for scams. Beware of scams offering early access to vaccines for a fee. Do not share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising to get you the vaccine for a fee. Also, keep in mind that Medicare covers the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are also free to others throughout the country, although providers may charge an administration fee.
What to do: For the latest vaccine updates, check with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) .
COVID-19 cure, air filters, and testing scams
The FTC warned about an increasing number of scams related to test kits, cures or treatments, and air filter systems designed to remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. If you receive a phone call, email, text message, or letter with claims to sell you any of these items–it’s a scam.
What to do: Testing is available through local and state governments or through your medical providers.
Fake coronavirus-related charity scams
A charity scam is when a thief poses as a real charity or makes up the name of a charity that sounds real to get money from you. Be careful about any charity calling you asking for donations. And be wary if you get a call following up on a donation pledge that you don’t remember making–it could be a scam.
What to do: If you are able to help financially, visit the website of the organization of your choice to make sure your money is going to the right place.
"Person in need" scams
Scammers could use the circumstances of the coronavirus to pose as a grandchild, relative or friend who claims to be ill, stranded in another state or foreign country, or otherwise in trouble, and ask you to send money. They may ask you to send cash by mail or buy gift cards. These scammers often beg you keep it a secret and act fast before you ask questions.
What to do: Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and get the facts. Hang up and call your grandchild or friend’s phone number to see if the story checks out. You could also call a different friend or relative. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person who contacted you.
Scams targeting Social Security benefits
While local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, SSA will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers may mislead people into believing they need to provide personal information or pay by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Any communication that says SSA will suspend or decrease your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call.
What to do: Report Social Security scams to the SSA Inspector General online at oig.ssa.gov .
COVID-19 government imposter scams
Many of us are paying close attention to the guidance from federal, state, and local governments during this COVID-19 health emergency. Unfortunately, scammers are also paying attention. Some are even pretending to be affiliated with the government–just to scam you out of money.
What to do:
Student Loan Debt Relief scams
Scammers are targeting student loan borrowers and may be trying to take advantage of circumstances related to the pandemic and government relief packages. If someone contacts you and asks for personal information or a fee to suspend your student loan payment, it’s a scam. Scammers may also try to claim you are eligible for immediate loan forgiveness with fake promises of loan cancelation through “Biden Loan Forgiveness” or “CARES Act loan forgiveness.” These programs do not exist. Loan forgiveness or discharge of student debt is rare, if someone promises immediate loan forgiveness then it is a scam. Learn more about the other warning signs of a debt relief scam.
What to do:
Unemployment benefits scams
Scammers are fraudulently filing unemployment claims using stolen personal identity information. If you receive a 1099-G tax form for unemployment benefits that you didn’t claim or receive, you may be a victim of identity theft. Someone may have used your personal information to receive unemployment benefits without your knowledge.
What to do: Follow these four steps to report unemployment benefits fraud and to protect yourself:
Suspicious transactions and deposits
Some people have reported receiving prepaid cards in the mail with unemployment benefits that they didn’t apply for. Others have reported suspicious transactions and deposits in their bank accounts involving unemployment benefits. Once you receive the funds, a scammer may contact you, pretend to be from the government, and tell you the benefits were deposited by mistake. They will then ask you to send them the money .
What to do: If you receive an unexpected prepaid card for unemployment benefits or see an unexpected deposit from your state in your bank account, report it right away to your state unemployment insurance office and your bank or credit union. If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, report the incident to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) .
ACA Health Insurance Enrollment
You can enroll in or change Marketplace health insurance plans
February 15, 2021 through August 15, 2021
Whether you are signing up for the first time or want to change your plan under the latest expansion, you must enroll by August 15, 2021.
|Heard the Rates are Too High? Financial help lowers costs for 93% of people getting insurance in Louisiana. Financial help can pay for premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.|
The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March makes health coverage more affordable for more people. You may now be eligible for additional savings and lower costs for “Marketplace” health insurance. Reductions are available even for people who were not eligible for coverage before. If you lost your job due to Covid and are receiving unemployment benefits, you may also be able to get help for your “COBRA” coverage.
How does the new law make healthcare coverage more affordable?
Based on your income, the new law covers more of your insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles.
Those who make up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level can now get coverage through a “Silver Plan” without having to pay premiums. Those who are eligible for this premium-free coverage have household incomes that are at or below these amounts:
|Number of People in Your Household||Annual Household Income||Monthly Average|
|For each additional person, add||$6,810||$567.50|
Help for premium costs also increases for everyone with incomes up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (or, an annual income of about $106,000 a year for a family of 4).
Are these changes permanent?
No. These changes are temporary and will be in effect during 2021 and 2022.
Are there any changes to help those receiving unemployment benefits?
Yes. People who receive unemployment benefits at any time during 2021 will be eligible for a zero-premium “Silver Plan.” This also includes reductions in copays and deductibles. These changes will only be in place for 2021, unless Congress votes to extend them.
Where do I enroll for healthcare benefits?
There are two options for enrolling on your own:
What if I need help enrolling or finding a plan?
Find an assister to help you find a plan that’s best for you by visiting: https://localhelp.healthcare.gov
How do I enroll?
Visit http://www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 by August 15, 2021.
If I don’t enroll now, can I enroll later if I get sick or hurt?
Probably not between August 15 and November 1 of 2021. If you or a family member have to go to the hospital or have other expensive health needs during the year, you may not be able to get coverage after the August 15 deadline. In November, you can start applying for coverage in 2022.
However, you might qualify for an exception (“special enrollment period”) if you get married, have a baby, adopt a child, or lose your current health insurance. And if your monthly income goes under 138% of the poverty line and you live in Louisiana, you can apply for Medicaid.
What documents will I need to sign up?
For each person in your household, you need social security numbers and information about income and taxes.
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying at the "Get Help" section of our website.
*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana
TIME Magazine has just released a new documentary by filmmaker Kathleen Flynn titled "Notice of Eviction" featuring two SLLS clients, and staff attorneys Hannah Adams and Alexis Erkert. The documentary provides an in-depth look at the COVID-19 eviction crisis and its disproportionate impact on black women and their children.
You can watch the full documentary below.
Jefferson Parish has announced a new Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help cover up to 15 months of rent. Funds will be issued on a first come first served, so apply early.
Funds for approved applicants will be sent directly to the landlord.
To qualify, you must meet all of the following requirements:
|Number of People in Your Household||Annual Household Income||Monthly Average|
*Section 8 Tenants whose rent is based on their household income may be eligible to participate in the Program, and receive up to their share of the rent.
*Tenants living in a subsidized property may be eligible for the TENANT Portion only.
To apply, you must create an account and fill out the application here. To create an account, you will need to have an email address. It is important that you provide a working email address and phone number.
If you need assistance with the application, you can call (504) 226-2324 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a call from a representative if you are eligible. If you are not eligible for the program, you will receive a notification in the mail.
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.