There are many reasons why the agency (LWC) can cut off your unemployment after it started. These include failing to do your weekly certifications, misreporting something to the agency, and others. You should get a written notice about any cut-off. If your unemployment benefits have been cut off, you can call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.

The cut-off notice should say why your benefits are being stopped and say how you can appeal. It should be mailed unless you signed up with the agency to get notices another way, like by email. You should always be able to see any notices through your online “HIRE” account.

There are only 15 days to appeal a notice. The appeal is easy to file. But if your benefits stop, it is important to look in HIRE immediately for a notice if you have not gotten one.

Some cut-offs can also be fixed if you do something the agency says you failed to do. If you fix the issue, your benefits can restart the next week.  For example, if you missed your weekly certification, go ahead and do your certification the next week. You will only lose one week’s benefits.  If you are unemployed long enough that your benefits run out, you will end up being paid the same number of weeks as you would have been anyway (making up for your missed week).

But the agency should not:

  1. Cut off your benefits without a notice to you about why and without offering you a hearing. (Even if you call in and the agency says it is working on your claim, the agency must still send you a notice. Not sending a notice when it stops your benefits is wrong.)
  2. Cut off your benefits because it thinks you were never eligible for (or were always disqualified from) receiving unemployment without giving you a hearing first. People in this situation will also get an overpayment notice saying they owe all the benefits they were paid back.

If either occurs after you were approved for unemployment benefits, courts are likely to rule that the State has to follow certain steps before your benefits are cut off. In many cases, Louisiana is not doing these things.

What do courts often require before the agency can change its mind about whether I get unemployment?

The agency should let you know that it wants to stop your benefits and why.

And it must give you a chance to respond before cutting your benefits off. It can do this by giving you a notice that you can appeal and an appeal decision before your benefits stop.

If your unemployment benefits were stopped and you were not given the reason why and a hearing before they stopped, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to help. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance.

What else should I do?

You can appeal any decision that you should not get unemployment or that you have been “overpaid.”  Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days to submit your appeal. Your notice will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal.

The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal. You can find more information on appeals here.

OTHER RESOURCES

More information on Unemployment Benefits during Covid can be found here.

Information on Unemployment Overpayments can be found here.

 

Some people in the following Louisiana jobs can get $250 from the state:

  • Grocery store, convenience store, and food assistance program workers;
  • Bus drivers; gas station staff members; sanitation workers; residential, commercial and industrial solid waste and hazardous waste removal workers; storage and disposal staff;
  • Many medical workers:
    • Nurses, assistants, aides, medical residents, pharmacy staff, phlebotomists, respiratory therapists, and workers providing direct patient care in inpatient and outpatient dialysis facilities;
    • Housekeeping, laundry services, food services and waste management workers in hospitals and healthcare facilities;
    • Long-term care facility staff members, outpatient care workers, home care workers, personal assistance providers, home health providers, home delivered meal providers, and childcare service providers;
    • Public health epidemiologists
  • Many “first responders”:
    • Emergency medical services (EMS) staff, fire and rescue members, and law enforcement officers;
  • Mortuary service providers; or
  • Veterinary service staff

The full list of eligible jobs can be found here.

This is separate from the federal stimulus check and unemployment benefits. Even if you received those, you may still be eligible for the $250 if you meet the requirements below.

To get the check, you must apply. Funds may run out, so sooner is better. If you are eligible, apply as soon as possible.

If you have questions about the program or the application, you can call the Louisiana Department of Revenue at (855) 307-3893 or visit this website.

Who can get the $250?

Workers who meet all of the following requirements are eligible:

Is a Louisiana resident with $50,000 or less in adjusted gross income on their 2019 Louisiana Income Taxes

  • You do not need to be a Louisiana resident for a certain amount of time to be eligible.
  • If you did not file a tax return for 2019, your 2018 tax return will be used. If you were not required to file a Louisiana income tax return those years, that will not keep you from being eligible. But you will have to turn in other documents.

Worked outside of their home for at least 200 hours between March 22, 2020, to May 14, 2020

  • You must have provided in-person services outside of your home to members of the public (customers, clients, patients, etc.)

Employed in one of the jobs listed on or after March 11, 2020.

Submitted their application for the program to the Louisiana Department of Revenue before October 31, 2020.

*If you are mailing your application in, it must be postmarked by October 31, 2020.

How do I apply for the program?

You can apply online at frontlineworkers.la.gov, or you can apply by printing and mailing the form at http://revenue.louisiana.gov/TaxForms/R-6186%20(7_20)F.pdf to:

Louisiana Department of Revenue
P. O. Box 5128
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

  • You cannot apply by phone.
  • Mailed applications will not get a receipt. The department will follow up if there are questions or if you are denied. If you are approved, your payment will be sent to you.
  • Do not apply more than once (like once online and once by mail). The agency says this will delay any payment. Only the first application will be reviewed. All others will be denied.
  • Each eligible worker will need to submit their own application. For example, you and your spouse would both need to apply separately.
  • Filing copies of your paycheck stubs for March 22, 2020 to May 14, 2020 when you apply can speed up your application.

What is this program called?

The Frontline Workers COVID-19 Hazard Pay Rebate Program or Covid-19 Hazard Pay.

I worked part-time in one of the eligible jobs. Can I get the $250?

Maybe. If you worked at least 200 hours from March 22, 2020 to May 14, 2020 and meet the other program requirements, and the money does not run out, you will be eligible. Both part-time and full-time employees can get it.

I did not work the 200 hours in one job. Can I combine hours from two jobs on the list?

Yes. As long as you also meet the other requirements, you will be eligible. There is no requirement that the 200 hours need to be all for the same employer.

I worked in-person in one of the eligible jobs, for at least 200 hours after March 22, 2020. But I was laid off before May 14, 2020. Can I get the payment?

Yes. As long as you meet all of the requirements of the program, you will be eligible. For example, if you were laid off on April 30, 2020, but already worked 200 hours since March 22, 2020, you will still be eligible.

I received unemployment benefits in March 2020, but I worked in an eligible job beginning in April for over 200 hours by May 14, 2020. Can I get the payment?

Yes. You qualify if you received unemployment, as long as you meet the requirements.

I am self-employed doing in-person services in an eligible job. Can I get the payment?

Yes. Self-employed people are eligible if all of the requirements are met. You may need to submit more documents.

How will I receive my payment?

If you give your bank information on your application, you will be paid by direct deposit. If you do not send your bank information, you will be sent a paper check.

How will I know if there are issues with my application?

If the Louisiana Department of Revenue has questions about your application, it will send a letter. Be sure that your application has your current address. If you moved after filing your application, call the Department at (855) 307-3893.

If the Department sends a follow-up for more information, you must respond within 30 days or your application will be denied.

Some common errors that can delay payment include:

  • Applying more than once
  • Putting more than one worker on an application
  • Not sending all documents the Department of Revenue requested in a follow-up letter

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter.

 

SLLS Helps Prevent an Air Force Veteran from Becoming Homeless

Mark* is a proud Air Force veteran. After receiving an Honorable Discharge in the early 1980s, he worked as a mechanic for many years. After Hurricane Katrina, he gutted and rebuilt storm damaged homes to play his part in bringing New Orleans back. As he got older, he struggled with medical problems that made it harder and harder for him to do the heavy lifting this work required. But in 2016, Mark’s health took a tragic turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and heart failure. He just couldn’t do that kind of work any longer.

Mark wasn’t sure what to do and thought about applying for disability. Then, one day, while at a doctor’s appointment at the VA Medical Center in New Orleans, his social worker told him that he could get free legal help downstairs in the hospital. There, in a small office across from the cafeteria, SLLS’ Veterans Justice Project – funded with support from the New Orleans Bar Association and New Orleans Bar Foundation – helps low-income veterans resolve civil legal problems.

Mark decided it was worth a try. He had nowhere else to turn and was scared that he would lose his home if he didn’t find a solution soon. When Mark walked into our VA Hospital legal clinic, he was 60 years old, unable to work, and had no income.

Our attorney did a full civil legal needs screening for Mark. Based on the screening, we recommended Mark apply for VA service connected benefits. We also helped Mark apply for Social Security benefits. Advocating for and supporting Mark through every step of the process, we helped him get an expedited approval of his disability claim from the Social Security Administration. Mark is now receiving both VA and Social Security disability benefits, which together, pays him nearly $10,000/year. He no longer fears he will become homeless. He is reassured to know that SLLS is there for him, conveniently located at the VA Hospital, if he ever needs legal help again.

Mark served his country well and worked hard his whole life. We’re proud that we had the opportunity to serve him when he needed help.

 

* Names and other identifying information were changed to protect our client's identity.

 

PLEASE NOTE BEFORE READING: The names of the individuals portrayed in the following series were altered to protect our client’s identities.

When Ms. Mable decided to move out of Mississippi, she was looking forward to a peaceful retirement in her hometown of St. Rose in St. Charles Parish. She suffered from severe medical problems and needed medical treatment for her worsening conditions. With less than $1,000 to her name and relying on her Social Security retirement benefits for income, Ms. Mable could not afford to pay the premiums, co-pays and other fees associated with her Medicare insurance.

Since her prior Medicaid insurance took care of these Medicare costs in Mississippi, she wasn’t worried about getting approved for the same benefits in Louisiana. Sadly, to her surprise her Louisiana Medicaid application was denied. Ms. Mable didn’t know what to do.

Without Medicaid, she could not afford to pay for her medical treatment or prescription medications. She decided to seek legal help from SLLS’ Harvey office.

Her SLLS attorney discovered that the Medicaid office failed to properly assess her Medicaid application. Thanks to our advocacy, Ms. Mable’s application was approved. Now she can rest assured that her medical care is covered and that she has access to the life-saving benefits she needs for a peaceful retirement.

On a cold and stormy evening, Mr. Turner sat alone in the dark in a rusty, old wheelchair wondering what he could do to improve his life. His deteriorating home was owned by his family and lacked electricity, running water, and proper insulation to keep him warm at night. Aside from allowing him to live there, his family wanted nothing to do with him.

Mr. Turner struggled to make a living for himself. He worked countless hours in a series of manual labor jobs – cutting grass, digging ditches, and working in restaurants. He rarely earned more than minimum wage. While he barely managed to make ends meet, Mr. Turner hoped for a better future.

Sadly though, things took a turn and got even worse. Mr. Turner seriously hurt his left foot in an accident. Because he couldn’t afford health insurance or out-of-pocket medical costs, he didn’t go to the doctor. Left untreated, his injury got infected – he faced a serious risk of amputation. To avoid putting pressure on his infected leg, Mr. Turner used a wheelchair to get around in.

His injury and infection became more and more painful over time. Eventually, it was so bad, he could no longer work full time. He had nowhere else to go, had no job prospects, and believe there was no one who would help him. He felt hopeless.

Thankfully staff at the One Stop Homeless Services Center in Baton Rouge referred Mr. Turner for a civil legal aid assessment at SLLS’ on-site legal clinic. After listening to Mr. Turner, our attorney determined that he might qualify for Social Security benefits. We helped him file his application and represented him throughout the several months long application process. We also helped him get Medicaid and connected him to doctors and medical transportation so he could finally get treatment for his conditions.

We were thrilled when we learned that Social Security approved Mr. Turner’s application. With these benefits, Mr. Turner now has a small monthly income and continued access to Medicaid so he can keep getting the medical care he needs.

Several months after we closed the case, Mr. Turner dropped by our clinic to check in on his attorney. She learned that Mr. Turner’s health had improved tremendously. And now he’s fixing up his family’s property so he will have a safe and warm home to live in this holiday season.

Your generous support ensures that people like Mr. Turner have access to attorneys who will listen, who think holistically and connect them to other services they need, and who fight tirelessly for their legal rights. Thank you!

PLEASE NOTE BEFORE READING: The names and other identifying information of the individuals portrayed were changed to protect our client’s identity.

With generous support from people like you, New Orleans became the first city in the U.S. to end homelessness for veterans in 2014. Yet, there will always be a need to ensure equal justice for all. Today, thousands of veterans in southeast Louisiana continue to “combat” life on the streets. Together, we can defend the rights of the brave men and women who served our country and ensure that they have a safe and stable home to sleep in at night.

Recently, you gave hope to a 34-year-old veteran who struggled with serious health issues and helped end his homelessness.

After leaving the U.S. Army, Mr. Leonards struggled with PTSD, depression, and several other medical conditions. Despite his illnesses, he managed to build a life for himself as a civilian and work a full-time job. Unfortunately, over time, his medical conditions got worse preventing from maintaining a job. After losing his job, Mr. Leonards was evicted.

With nowhere else to turn, Mr. Leonards slept in different homeless shelters in downtown New Orleans. When the shelters were full, he went under the overpass to sleep on the cold, hard sidewalk. Faced with the reality of having no income, no safe place to lay his head at night, and increasingly severe health problems, Mr. Leonards felt helpless and defeated. Thankfully he quickly found hope at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS).

Within minutes of walking into our office, he met with a caring and passionate attorney who immediately opened a Social Security disability benefits case for him. SLLS also referred him to one of our partner agencies who quickly helped him obtain rental assistance so he could get off the streets.

Thanks to our advocacy, Social Security approved Mr. Leonards’ application for disability benefits in only 4 weeks (a process than typically takes 4-8 months to complete). Now that he has the economic support he needs to afford his rent, he can focus on his health.

Because of people like you, homeless veterans and people with disabilities can access critical legal help they otherwise could not afford. You have the power to defend their rights and to ensure that they can get on their feet and move forward. Thank you!