Northwestern Legal Services (NWLS) Media
NWLS posts audio and video content on various Pennsylvania civil, poverty-law topics for informational purposes only.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Qualifying for Unemployment Compensation (Russian)
Qualifying for TANF (Russian)
Food Stamps Help Working Families (Russian)
Temporary Aid to Needy Families (Russian)
Perdones y Expurgaciones en PA (Spanish)
Compensacion de Desempleo (Spanish)
6/2/2008: Resumen del proceso de beneficios de Compensacion de Desempleo en Pennsylvania, calificando cuando usted renuncia o es terminado, cómo aplicar, los requisitos financieros de la elegibilidad, el proceso de la audiencia, y la información a apelar un caso Download Spanish MP3 Copyright NWLS 2008. All rights reserved. Spanish Text
Cupones de Comida ayudan a las familias que trabajan (Spanish)
6/2/2008: Resumen de los beneficios de Cupones de Alimentos y cómo ellos pueden ayudar las familias de ingresos bajos y de trabajo, en qué tipo de artículos pueden ser utilizados, información de elegibilidad, y cómo las transacciones de cupón de alimentos son procesadas en Pennsylvania.
Download Spanish MP3 Copyright NWLS 2008. All rights reserved. Spanish Text
Apply through COMPASS
Labels: food stamps
Calificaciones y Requerimientos de TANF (Spanish)
6/2/2008: Programa de Ayuda Temporaria para para Familias Necesitadas (TANF) de Pennsylvania. Resumen de los requisitos, limites de ingreso y informacion en como los beneficios son procesados.
Download Spanish MP3 Copyright NWLS 2008. All rights reserved. Spanish Text
Apply through COMPASS
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Resumen de Beneficios de TANF (Spanish)
Monday, June 2, 2008
Pardons and Expungements in Pennsylvania
6/2/2008 - Information on how pardons and expungements in Pennsylvania are handled, how and when to apply, and what criteria is considered.
Download MP3 Copyright 2008, all rights reserved.
A record of arrest or a criminal conviction on your record can cause problems later in life. For that reason, you may want to attempt to remove such things from your criminal record. Basically, in Pennsylvania, there are two ways to remove something from your record: expungement and pardon.
An expungement is one method to remove something from your criminal record; however, only a few things may be expunged from your record. Some examples may include: any offenses for which you received Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and completed the ARD program successfully; Section 17 disposition for first time drug offenders; arrests for which you were never charged; and charges that were dismissed or for which you were found not guilty.
Expungement procedures vary greatly from county to county in Pennsylvania. If you feel there is something on your criminal record that can be expunged, please contact the legal aid organization that serves your county to get help with filing for the expungement.
Convictions generally cannot be expunged from your record. Convictions include charges to which you have pled guilty or no contest, and charges of which you have been found guilty.
To try and remove any type of conviction from your record, you must use the pardon process. The pardon process is lengthy, and may take up to two to four years to complete.
In order to obtain a pardon application, you must write to the PA Board of Pardons in Harrisburg and request an application. There is small fee to receive an application. You must also obtain your official PA criminal history from the PA State Police which will also require a small fee.
Also, you may want to collect letters of reference, diplomas, work certificates, your resume, and any other documents that show what you have done with your life since the time of the conviction, and how you have tried to learn from your conviction and become a better person and member of society.
Once you receive the pardon application in the mail, it will provide you with instructions on how to complete the process. You must complete the application and send it to the Board of Pardons, along with your official PA criminal history, and the other documentation you have collected.
On the application, you will have to give details of the act that led to your conviction, as well as your reasons for wanting a pardon, and the reasons why you feel the Board of Pardons should grant your request. You will then be notified whether or not you have received a public hearing in front of the Board of Pardons. At that hearing, you will explain in person your desire for a pardon, along with the reasons you feel you deserve the pardon.
If the Board of Pardons recommends a pardon, it then must be approved by the Governor of PA. More information can be found at the Board of Pardons website.
Qualifying for Unemployment Compensation
6/2/2008: A summary of the Unemployment Compensation benefit process in Pennsylvania, qualifying when you quit or are terminated, how to apply, financial eligibility requirements, the hearing process, and information on appealing a case.
Download Audio: English Audio-MP3 Copyright NWLS 2008, all rights reserved.
When you are separated from employment in Pennsylvania, or your hours are significantly reduced, you may be entitled to Unemployment Compensation, or UC, benefits.
Total separation from employment generally falls into one of two categories: you quit a job, or you were terminated from employment. Once you have either quit a job or have been fired, you may apply for UC benefits. This may be done online or over the phone. To apply online or obtain a telephone number for filing over the phone, you may visit the PA Dept. of Labor & Industry website: www.dli.state.pa.us, which also provides instructions in Spanish.
To apply, you will either fill out a questionnaire if you apply online, or answer a UC Service Center Representative's questions if you apply by telephone. The Representative will ask you questions about your former employer and other general information, and the reason you left work. You will then receive notice in the mail whether or not you are financially eligible to receive UC benefits, based on the amount of money you have earned in a certain amount of time.
After financial eligibility is determined, your former employer will be notified that you have applied. The employer will then be asked for information regarding your separation. Once the Unemployment Compensation Service Center has heard both your and your employer's version of why you are separated from that employment, it will issue a "Notice of Determination," which will state whether or not you are eligible for UC benefits. Both you and the employer have the right to appeal this Determination within 15 days. Failure to appeal an unfavorable decision within 15 days of the date on the decision will mean that the decision to deny you UC benefits has become final.
If the case is appealed, you will receive notice in the mail of a hearing in front of a UC Referee, at which time you are entitled to be represented by an attorney, paralegal, or other non-legal representative if you so choose. At the hearing, the Referee will take testimony and evidence regarding your separation from employment. The issues are addressed as follows:
If you quit your job, you will be awarded UC benefits if you can prove that there was a "necessitous and compelling" reason to quit the job. This means that you must have a very good reason for quitting, which the Referee will evaluate on a case by case basis. In situations where you quit voluntarily, you must exhaust all alternatives prior to quitting – that is, you must inform the employer of the issue, and allow them an opportunity to address your issues.
If you are terminated from your job, the employer must prove that you committed willful misconduct, which basically means that you intentionally violated one of the employer's rules, that you disregarded standards of behavior that the employer had a right to expect from you, or that you willfully disregarded the employer's interests. In a willful misconduct case, if an employer provides evidence that you intentionally violated a rule, you can try to show that the rule was unreasonable or not uniformly enforced.
After the hearing, the Referee will issue a "Notice of Decision." That, too, can be appealed by either party.
Food Stamps Can Help Working Families
6/2/2008 - An overview of Food Stamps benefits and how they can help low-income and working families, what types of items they can be used to purchase, eligibility information, and how the food stamp transactions are processed in Pennsylvania. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved.
Download English Audio-MP3
Food Stamps are designed to help low-income people buy the food they need for good health. Many working families do not realize they are eligible for this important benefit that can be used at most grocery stores and supermarkets. Authorized restaurants can also accept food stamps in exchange for meals.
Households can use food stamps to buy foods such as breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, as well as seeds and plants that grow food for the home. Sales tax cannot be charged on items bought with food stamps, but keep in mind that food stamps cannot be exchanged for cash.
Food stamps CANNOT be used for certain items such as beer, liquor, cigarettes, pet foods, soaps, paper products, and household supplies.
If you or any member of your household is receiving Cash Assistance or SSI, you are eligible for food stamps, regardless of your income. If a member of your household is elderly or disabled, and if you have high medical care or housing costs, you may be eligible for food stamps regardless of your income. U.S. citizens and some non-citizens who are admitted for permanent residency can qualify.
For other households not receiving cash assistance or SSI, your monthly income cannot exceed certain limits set by the federal government each year in order to qualify for the program. You also cannot exceed certain limits on other resources such as savings accounts, stocks and bonds.
Pennsylvania issues food stamps using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system. EBT uses a plastic card similar to an ATM card to transfer funds from a food stamp account to a retailer's account. With an EBT card, food stamp customers pay for groceries without any paper coupons changing hands.
You can apply for benefits by completing an application with PA Department of Public Welfare or using the COMPASS website below.
The COMPASS site is available in many languages other than English.
Food Stamps are a great way to provide for your family's nutritional needs.
Labels: food stamps
Qualifying for TANF
6/2/2008: Qualifying requirements of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) benefits in Pennsylvania, an overview of citizenship and non-citizenship requirements, how the benefits are processed, and time limitation periods that apply.
Download English Audio-MP3 Copyright 2008, all rights reserved.
To apply for Temporary Aid to Needy Families, or TANF, you must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Pennsylvania. Certain non-citizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence may also be eligible for the program. You and your family members must also have Social Security Numbers or apply for one. After completing an application, you must schedule a face-to-face interview with a worker from the county assistance office in the county in which you live. If you have any problems obtaining verification, you should notify the Assistance Office about the problem.
TANF also has limits on the amount of money that you can have and still qualify for the program. Your home and first vehicle, however, are not counted as part of this limit.
Benefits will not start until all of the needed documents have been provided, and approval has been issued by the PA Department of Public Welfare.
TANF benefits usually do not last more than five years. In a small number of cases, TANF benefits can be extended for people who are close to completing a college degree or have circumstances that would prevent them from being successful in any of the programs which TANF offers.
Many of the requirements also vary depending on the ages of the children in the home or the family's home life situation. If you are caring for a disabled child or family member, you may be exempt from the work requirements. If there are issues with Domestic Violence, safeguards are also in place to protect the family and provide the assistance.
TANF does require that you file for support, such as child support or spousal support, if you are eligible. The amount of TANF you receive may be affected by this support.
TANF benefits are issued on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, so no checks are mailed to you. You access the monies on the card the same way you would a regular debit card. The EBT card can be used at many ATM machines, typically without any additional fees.
To apply for TANF you can complete an application with PA Department of Public Welfare Office at a county assistance, or apply online using the COMPASS website at the link below.
The COMPASS site is available in many languages including English.
Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF)
6/2/2008: A basic summary of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF)Benefits in Pennsylvania, how to qualify, work requirements, how to obtain job-training or educational assistance, and information on how to apply for TANF. Copyright NWLS 2008. All rights reserved.
TANF, or Temporary Aid to Needy Families, is a welfare program that helps households with children by providing them with money when there is no other income in the home. Typically, Food Stamps and Medical Assistance are offered along with TANF. The amount of money you receive from TANF is based on the size of your household, and it is usually enough for some, but not all, of your basic needs.
In order to qualify for TANF, an adult must do some type of work activity for a certain number of hours each week. Typically, an adult must be in a work activity 30 hours per week, and for a household with two adults, a combined 55 hours of work activity each week. Work requirements may vary, depending on the situation in your home.
If people getting TANF cannot find a job, they can enroll in a job-training program or school of their choice. Welfare may pay for many of the costs for higher-education and provide TANF while you get up to a four-year college degree.
TANF also offers many benefits to help you get a job or to assist you in your education. These are called Special Allowances, and they help remove barriers that keep you from working or going to school. Special allowances include childcare costs, transportation, clothing or uniforms, union dues, and other needs.
To apply for TANF, you can complete an application with PA Department of Public Welfare at a county assistance office where you live, or apply online using the PA COMPASS link below.
The COMPASS site is available in many languages in addition to English.