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  • With unemployment rates at record-high levels many workers are facing the prospect of running out of unemployment benefits. Currently the state of Pennsylvania offers a maximum of 99 weeks of unemployment benefits: 26 weeks from the regular state unemployment insurance agency, 53 weeks from the emergency unemployment compensation program and 20 weeks from the extended benefits program.

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    However, as our reader D. Wood asked recently: “Are there any unemployment benefits after 99 weeks?”

    At this moment there are no additional unemployment benefits nor are there any plans for them. What is more, the current extension program which allows for the extended benefits and emergency unemployment compensation benefits will expire at the end of this year. So, it is likely unemployment benefits will be reduced next year to pre-2008 levels.

    However, this does not mean there are no additional options to workers who run out of unemployment benefit weeks and still need financial assistance. For instance, Pennsylvania unemployed workers may apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, and for General Assistance, GA. Would you like to find more information on these two programs. Click here to visit Pennsylvania’s website on human services or read below for a summary of the most frequently asked questions about these programs.

    What Health and Human Services should I apply for?

    You should apply for every benefit that you think you may need.

    When your application arrives the County Assistance Office will look at your income and tell you what Health and Human Services you can receive.

    If I want Cash Assistance, for whom should I apply?

    You must apply for

    If you are a parent under the age of 18, you must include your parents.

    You may apply for children related to you who are not your own. If you apply for any such child you must apply for that child’s siblings. You may also apply for yourself, but it is not required.

    You may apply for children not related to you under emergency circumstances. At your interview, the caseworker will discuss plans for the children with you. You may also apply for yourself, but it is not required.

    You may apply for General Assistance (GA) for yourself, but you must provide information about your spouse if you are married.

    You do not need to apply for anyone who is not your dependent or who is not helping to support you or your children. These individuals should apply separately.

    If eligible for Cash Assistance benefits, what other benefits will I receive?

    If you receive Cash Assistance you also receive Medical Assistance.

    You will also be eligible for programs related to The Road to Economic Self-Sufficiency through Employment and Training (RESET)

    You will be asked if you want to apply for Food Stamps. If you receive Cash Assistance, you may also be able to receive Food Stamps.

    Are there any time limits on Cash Assistance?

    A person can receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for a total of 60 months in a lifetime. This is true if a person is:

    1. An adult;
    2. A minor child who is the head of household or married to the head of household;
    3. A minor child of an adult who has reached the 5-year limit.

    Period(s) of TANF receipt need not be consecutive to count toward the 60-month limit.

    You may receive Cash Assistance that does not count against your 60-month limit. At your interview, talk to your caseworker.

    Single adults, married adults, or children not related to their caretaker, may be able to receive General Assistance (GA). GA has some time limits. These are:

    1. Victims of domestic violence (DV) can have a lifetime total of 9 months of GA;
    2. A person who is drug and/or alcohol dependent can receive GA for only 9 months in his lifetime;
    3. An adult with a temporary disability can get GA while he recovers. A doctor or Psychologist will estimate the recovery time;
    4. An adult with a permanent disability, certified by a doctor or Psychologist, has no time limit;
    5. An adult, who cares for a disabled individual, has no time limit. A doctor or Psychologist must certify the disability;
    6. A child age 18 or under, who is not related to his caretaker, has no time limit.

    How much money will I get?

    Match the county where you live with the number of people you are applying for to see how much money you could receive. Household income may reduce the amount of money you could receive. Money amounts also vary depending on the county you apply from. Counties are divided into four groups. Click here to see where your county lies and how much you can receive.

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