What help is there for families right now?

Information for Struggling Families about benefits now available to them

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 has changed many things for low income families.  Use this list to be sure you get all the help you can.  These resources are available to families with no income or modest income.

INFORMATION in SPANISH


Monthly Child Care Tax payments

The IRS is planning to open the two online child tax credit portals by July 1. That's where you'll change your status and more.

If you're eligible for the child tax credit payments, you should get a head start on calculating how much money you'll get before the first payment arrives July 15.

The IRS is working on opening two portals for families with qualifying dependents so they can update their information.

The portals will be available for you to:

  • register (if you don't normally file a tax return),
  • update information (if there's a change in the number of dependents) and to 
  • opt out of the monthly payments if you want a larger check instead. 

On the 15th of each month, the advance child tax credit payments will be sent out -- unless it falls on a weekend or holiday.

Each check could be as much as $300 per child depending on the child's age by the end of 2021. Parents should be aware of the income limit and other requirements to get the full payment per child.

As we get more information from the IRS, we'll update this story frequently to explain the separate portals.

Here are some different ways to use your child tax credit checks, how you may receive your payment and how you can claim an additional $8,000 to $16,000 credit for child care expenses

Read more about it.


Apply for no-cost medical coverage

Adults: Through August 15

Apply: https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/health-insurance-marketplace-glossary/

For people with income between $17,430 for a household of 2 (1 child) up to $43,550 (150% of Federal Poverty Level) – zero cost for the silver plan – NO premium,

Higher incomes have major decrease in premium costs.

This goes on through 2022.

The money to pay for your coverage comes as tax credit – If you already have health insurance through the Federal Marketplace, sign in to your account to request this and lower your cost for remainder of the year – This benefit is retroactive, so some of the money will come in a tax refund on income tax return filed for 2021.

IF you got any Unemployment Benefits in 2021, you are automatically eligible for Zero cost, if you select the silver plan.  Anyone who got Unemployment Benefits in 2021 can buy health insurance in the marketplace - this coverage will only last for 2021.

If you could be eligible for COBRA coverage after leaving a job, you can get COBRA for one year or for 60 days after the end of the COVID National Emergency.

You can get a tax credit equal to 100% coverage for up to 6 months in 2021, for payments made between 4/1/21 and 9/30/21.

Read more here.


Health Insurance for Children:  Health Wave  

In Kansas, you may apply for children’s health insurance any time. Apply online at https://cssp.kees.ks.gov/apspssp/.  You can view eligibility, after answering some simple questions and apply online if you are eligible.


Internet (Broadband) program

Please check the FCC website, www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, often for the latest information. You are eligible if your child gets reduced school lunches, or if you have loss of income due to COVID, or if your 2020 income was below $99,000. The FCC is working to make the benefit available as quickly as possible. This will provide free internet for eligible families.  You will be able to choose your own provider. Read more here.


Back rent due or need for future rent

KERA – Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance - help with paying rent, some utilities, including internet

                Up to 12 months of payments (past due rent since April 1, 2020 and future rent)

                You must make a joint application with your landlord

                Must have had financial hardship due to COVID

                Your income now (varies by county) has to be less than about $40,000.  Check on the website for specific information.

Apply here: https://kera.kshousingcorp.org/kera#/

IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR APPLICATION IN THE TOPEKA AREA, YOU CAN CALL COMMUNITY ACTION AT (785) 836-4500.  Trained, professional staff will assist you and/or your landlord at no cost. 


SNAP (Food Help)

The amount of benefits for a family are up by 15% through September. This is about $25 per person per month. Children who would have gotten free or reduced food from schools can get more money on the family SNAP electronic card, if they are not eating at school.  This should continue through the summer.

The highest monthly income limit is $1868 for a family of two, $2353 for a family of three.  The highest benefit is $374 for a family of two, $535 a month for a family of three.  There are limits on resources (money in the bank, etc.)

Apply: https://cssp.kees.ks.gov/apspssp/sspNonMed.portal


There is so much to know about what kind of help is available for you to get through this crisis. Kansas Legal Services will try and answer your questions and keep you up-to-date on what's available to help you.

If you are in a situation that you feel is urgent, and you need advice or legal assistance to determine your next steps, please ask for help.

Apply Online for legal assistance. Or call 800-723-6953


CONSUMER SCAMS

The Federal Trade Commission has warned people to be on the lookout for COVID-19 related scams.

-You can report fraud or price gouging to the KS Attorney General online ag.ks.gov

If you receive unsolicited calls, emails, or other communication claiming to be from the FDIC or another federal agency in connection with COVID-19 related grants or payments in exchange for personal financial information, please do not respond.  These are scams. Find out how to report COVID-19 scams.


COURT RESTRICTIONS

Courts were briefly closed for all non-emergency proceedings (including evictions and foreclosures). District courts can now resume eviction and foreclosure hearings via phone or video. If an eviction was filed before 3/12/20 or is not related to a coronavirus related financial hardship, those evictions may now continue. Decisions about whether to hear these cases are now left up to district courts across Kansas.

Question: I have a court date, but the Courthouse is closed.  What do I do?

With the exception of first appearances and emergency motions, all court dates have been moved or changed to virtual hearings.  If you are represented by an attorney, you should contact your attorney.  If you are representing yourself but the other side has an attorney, contact the other attorney.   Some courts are resetting cases already, and you can call them to get your new court date.  Wait times are extended due to the current situation.  Understand, we are not sure when this shutdown will end, and your court date may move again.  

Question: While the Courthouses are closed, can a Judge do anything to help my situation?  

In most counties, only emergency hearings are being held.  All other hearings are either virtual or moved to a later date.  If it is an emergency, you can file a motion, but there is not guarantee that it will be heard before the courts are open.  If you are represented by an attorney, you should reach out to your attorney. 

If you are in a domestic violence situation, you can still file a protection from abuse or protection from stalking order.  Contact the local domestic violence shelter and they will assist you, or you can call our office and complete an intake for assistance.  

Parenting Time Orders

-You can still travel for your parenting time during shelter in place orders. This is considered an essential activity. You should be following these orders.

-Almost all supervised visitation and exchange centers are closed.

-For families who can't exercise physical parenting time consider utilizing FaceTime, Zoom, Skype

Question: Can I stop visitation if I believe the other parent isn't following stay at home restrictions?

The Stay at Home Orders specifically defines an essential activity as any action necessary to comply with valid court orders. Parenting plans, including exchanges of minor children between parents, remain valid court orders, previously found to be in the minor children's best interest.

If you believe that your co-parent is not following the stay at home restrictions you should not unilaterally terminate visits. You can file a motion to modify the parenting plan on the basis that the pandemic is a material change in circumstances and the other parents' refusal to abide by the stay at home orders is not in the best interests of the minor child(ren).

If you believe it is an emergency you can file an ex-parte motion to modify, but you must have grounds and specifically cite what makes your situation an emergency.

Self-Represented Litigants Filing Documents

How to file using a district court drop box

As of December 9, under a Supreme Court temporary rule, a self-represented litigant may file a document in a case using a district court drop box. Drop boxes ensure self-represented litigants are always able to file, even if a courthouse is closed to walk-in service. 

Go here to read more about filing a document to a drop box.


DRIVER'S LICENSES AND VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS

Questions about driver’s licenses and other Division of Vehicle services can be answered by email at kdor_dovdl@ks.gov

Questions about your vehicle registration should be directed to your local county treasurer’s office.

In addition to the extensions, these services can be conducted online at iKan.ks.gov or on mobile devices through the iKan application.

This page will help you with driver's license issues.


FOOD ASSISTANCE

Kansas gives emergency food assistance benefit to current program households who get SNAP benefits. The emergency allotment increases a household’s monthly benefit to the maximum allowed for the size of the family. The maximum monthly benefit for a family of four is $646.​

Read more about Kansas food assistance.  You can find links to other food-related assistance on this page.


HOUSING ISSUES

NEW  Governor Kelly has suspended evictions and foreclosures through MAY 28, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control's nationwide eviction moratorium extended to June 30, 2021.

Eviction or foreclosure should be caused by substantial financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (job loss, reduction in working hours, etc).

The Veterans Administration has extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for VA-guaranteed loans through June 30, 2021.

Apply Online for legal assistance or call 800-723-6953 


If you live out of state and have questions about eviction moratoriums in other locations, please check this website: https://legalfaq.org/


IRS/STIMULUS CHECKS

Questions and Answers About Those Economic Impact (Stimulus) Payments

Read more at the IRS website about Economic Impact Payments here.


KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT (KDHE) RESOURCES

KDHE's website has many resources for Kansans on issues such as resources for healthcare workers, how to protect yourself and others, what to do if you think you're sick, frequently asked questions, toolkits, and much more.

You can also get the up-to-date information on cases in Kansas.  https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/


PUBLIC BENEFITS

You may complete an online self-assessment through the Kansas Department of Children and Families that can tell you which services you and members of your family may qualify for at http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/pages/application-for-benefits.aspx

You can use this page to apply for the following services: Food Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Child Care Assistance, Child Support Services, Medical Assistance, LIEAP.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

How to report a fraudulent claim filed in your name in Kansas.

Kansas Department of Labor - Unemployment Compensation page.


UTILITIES

If you are behind on payments, call your utility to set up a payment plan. For information on assistance programs in your area, click here. 

If you have questions or need assistance in resolving a utility issue, please contact the Kansas Corporation Commission’s Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at (800) 662-0027 or (785) 271-3140.

 

 

Page Updated 05/26/2021

What help is there for families right now?

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