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What are Public Benefits Changes during COVID-19?



Are the offices of Job and Family Services open?

Jobs and Family Services (JFS) lobbies are closed to the public. For information or to apply, call Ohio Benefits at 1-844-640-OHIO or visit benefits.ohio.gov. For Cuyahoga County residents: To drop off documents, use the drop boxes at the Virgil E Brown, Jane Edna Hunter, Quincy, Old Brooklyn, or Westshore locations. Verifications may also be mailed to the Agency. JFS will mail you a postage paid envelope if you call and ask for one.

What happens to my cash benefits if I can’t work, attend training/education, or look for a job right now?

At this time, most Ohio counties are not requiring recipients of Ohio Works First (OWF) cash assistance benefits to participate in work activities because of the Governor’s Stay at Home order.  The federal government has not removed work requirements, but told states to be flexible and use “good cause” exemptions when possible.  For more information, see: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/resource/tanf-acf-pi-2020-01

How do I maintain health care during the COVID 19 pandemic?

Health insurers must allow employers to continue covering employees, even if the employee would otherwise become ineligible because of a decrease in hours worked per week. Employees may be working a significantly reduced schedule right now, through no fault of their own.

Those who do lose insurance coverage, are eligible for a special enrollment period to gain new coverage. Premium subsidies may be available for those who qualify by purchasing plans on the federal exchange.

Click here for the Ohio Department of Insurance’s official bulletin on this topic.

I’m a parent without childcare and I work an essential job. What benefits can I access? 

Parents whose jobs are deemed essential should apply immediately for emergency childcare.  Most jobs in health and safety fields are considered essential. For more information, go here: http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/CoronavirusAndChildcareForFamilies/

Are childcare facilities still allowed to operate?

Childcare facilities must have a pandemic license in order to operate now through April 30, 2020. For more information, go here: http://jfs.ohio.gov/cdc/CoronavirusAndChildcareForFamilies/

Can I receive financial assistance to help pay my bills? 

Some counties are expanding their Prevention, Retention, Contingency (PRC) benefits to cover certain needs related to COVID 19.  You must have a child living in your household or be pregnant to be eligible for this program.   You must also be below a certain income level.  This financial assistance is limited to food assistance, rental assistance and essential supplies such as cleaning products, infant care items, and cleaning products.

You can contact the Department of Job and Family Service in your county for more information.

In Cuyahoga County, visit: https://cjfs.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/PRC.aspx and click on the COVID-19 Emergency Response link for information about PRC.   Applications can be submitted to any of the JFS Neighborhood Family Service Center drop boxes, via email at Cuy-PRC-Application@jfs.ohio.gov,  or by fax at (216) 987-8655.  For questions, call the PRC Information Line at (216) 987-7392 and leave a message and allow 48 hours for a response.  You can also apply for PRC by calling the United Way at (216) 436-2000 or Ohio Benefits at 844-640-6446.

I’m a veteran with a VA overpayment and/or medical debt which I have to repay or is being deducted from my VA benefits and/or Social Security benefits.  Can I ask the VA to stop collection of this debt? 

As of April 3rd, the VA has suspended collection of debts which are currently being deducted from benefits by the Treasury Department, including any deductions made from your Social Security benefits for medical or VA benefit debts.   You should not have to ask that the collection cease.  The VA is also suspending collection or extending repayment terms for all VA benefit debts collected through the VA’s Debt Management Center.   You should contact the VA Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648 to ask that the debt be suspended or for a lower monthly payment.  For health care debts, Veterans can contact the Health Resource Center at 1-888-827-4817 to ask that collection be suspended or for lower monthly payments.

For more information on Public Benefits during COVID-19, please see these related FAQs:

Public Benefits: What Should I Know about Medicaid during COVID 19?

Public Benefits: What Should I Know about SNAP (food stamp) Benefits during COVID-19?

Public Benefits: What Should I Know about Social Security Benefits during COVID-19?

Public Benefits: What are Emergency SNAP (food stamp) Benefits and Will I Get Them?

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