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Georgia Covid-19 Resource List

Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. LSC Funded
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Health Information +

  • Learn more about the Covid-19 vaccine and find a vaccine appointment on the Georgia Department of Health website.
  • Read the latest from the Centers for Disease Control on how to prepare and what to do if you are sick. 
  • Learn how to prepare yourself and learn more about Covid-19 on the World Health Organization website. 
  • If you do not have health insurance and need to go to the emergency room, you may qualify for Emergency Medicaid. Apply for Emergency Medicaid at the hospital. 
  • The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 hotline: 1-844-442-2681. Georgians with questions or concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus) may call this hotline.

IRS Child Tax Credit +

Under the American Rescue Plan, you may be eligible for a child tax credit for your children that are under 18. You are eligible if you earn less than $75,000/ year as an individual or $150,000 for married couples. 

 

The tax credit is:

  • $3000/year for each child aged 6-17 and
  • $3,600/year for each child under 6.

 

Unless you opt out, the IRS will send eligible families six monthly pre-payments, starting July 15th and ending December 15th.

  • For children under 6, the monthly payment will be $300.
  • For children between 6-17, the monthly payment will be $250.

 

The remaining money ($1800 for children under 6, $1500 for children between 6-17) will be available as a child tax credit on your 2021 taxes. 

 

Even if you do not normally file taxes, you can still get the Child Tax Credit payments.

  • If you did not file a 2020 tax return and do not plan to, use the Non-Filer Sign-up Tool on the IRS website to get the Child Tax Credit payments. 

 

If you have filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return, or previously gave your information to the IRS using the Non-Filers tool to get the Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks), you do not need to do anything else to get the Child Tax Credit Advance payments. 

 

If you do not want to receive the advance payments (and instead use the entire credit on your 2021 tax return), you can unenroll from the payments on the IRS website.

 

Help with Stimulus Payments +

Contents


File your taxes by May 17, 2021 to get your payments

Even if you don’t normally file taxes, you should file your 2020 tax return to make sure you get all of the stimulus money you are owed. It will also help you get future payments.

 

The filing deadline is May 17, 2021.

 

  • If you don’t usually file taxes because you don’t have earnings from work or you get disability benefits, you might not have gotten all of the money you and your family are owed. You can get your stimulus payments by filing taxes now.
  • The rules about who can get stimulus payments keep changing. Even if you did not qualify for a stimulus payment before, you might qualify for one now. You should file taxes to see if you are owed money, and to make it easier to get money in the future.
  • If you lost your job or your income dropped in 2020, you should file taxes so the IRS has your recent income information. You might qualify for more money based on your lower income.
  • If you have children living with you as of 2020, you may be eligible for another payment later in 2021. You can qualify for this money by filing your 2020 taxes.

 

For help filing your taxes:


How to get your third stimulus payment (from March 2021 Covid relief bill)

As part of the Covid-19 Relief bill signed into law on March 11, 2021, some taxpayers will get a payment from the federal government.

 

Who is eligible?

Payments are based on your 2019 income (or your 2020 income if you’ve already filed your 2020 tax return).

  • People who made under $75,000/year, heads of households who made up to $112,500/year, or married couples who made up to $150,000 will get the full payment. 

    • The full payment is $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for married couples. 

      • People with dependents (usually children) will get $1,400 for each dependent. This includes adult dependents such as college students or other qualifying family members. 

    • People who made between $80,000/year ($120,000 for head of household, $174,000 for a married couple) and $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household, $150,000 for a married couple) will get a partial payment.

    • Note: if you qualify for a payment based on your 2020 income but don’t receive a check because the government used the income from your 2019 tax return, you can claim a credit on your 2021 tax return. 

 

Who is not eligible?

  • People who made over  $80,000/year ($120,000 for head of household, $174,000 for a married couple) will not get a payment. 

  • If someone else claimed you as a dependent on their taxes (like college students), you will not get a payment. However, for this round of stimulus payments, a payment will go to the person who claimed you as a dependent.

 

How will the money arrive?

If you are eligible for the payment, and the IRS has your information on file, your money will come in one of three ways:

  • Direct deposit to your bank account. This will happen if the IRS has your bank account and routing number. 

  • By check.

  • By a new EIP Prepaid Debit Card. You will get a new EIP card for this payment.  These cards are not a scam. Read the NCLC's fact sheet about the EIP Prepaid Cards to learn what these cards look like and how to cash or use the card without fees.

    • Look for an envelope that has the return address of Money Network Cardholder Services, PO Box 247022, Omaha, NE 68124

    • If you got a card but threw it away, call 800-240-8100. Replacement cards are free.

 

What do I need to do to get the money?

These payments are being issued based on information the IRS already has on file.

  • If the IRS has your information on file, you do not have to do anything to get your third payment. 

  • If the IRS does not have your information on file, you can get it by filing a 2020 tax return. You will need to file a tax return even if you do not normally file one if you want to get this payment.

 

The IRS has your information if:

  • You filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return,

  • You entered information using the Non-Filers tool on the IRS website in order to get your first payment,

  • You get Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI , VA or Railroad Retirement benefits.

 

The IRS may not have your information if:

  • You did not enter information using the IRS's Non-filers tool by November 21, 2020 or file a simplified tax return AND you

    • Did not file a 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return because your income was under $12,200 (or $24,000 for married couples).

    • Were not required to file a 2019 or 2020 federal income tax for other reasons, or 

    • Get Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI , VA or Railroad Retirement benefits and you have a child under 17. Although the IRS will have your information, they will not have information about your dependents.


How to get your second stimulus payment (from December 2020 Covid relief bill)

 

As part of the Covid-19 Relief bill signed into law on December 30, 2020, some taxpayers will get a payment from the federal government.

 

Who is eligible?

  • People who made under $75,000/year ($150,000 for a married couple) will get the full payment. 

    • The full payment is $600 for an individual and $1,200 for married couples. 

      • Parents will get $600 for each child under 17 that they claim as a dependent. 

  • People who made between $87,000/year ($174,000 for a married couple) and $75,000 ($150,000 for a married couple) will get a partial payment.

 

Who is not eligible?

  • People who made over $87,000/year ($174,000 for married couples) will not get a payment. 

  • If someone else claimed you as a dependent on their taxes (like college students), you cannot get a payment.

 

How will the money arrive?

If you are eligible for the payment, and the IRS has your information on file, your money will come in one of three ways:

  • Direct deposit to your bank account. This will happen if the IRS has your bank account and routing number. 
  • By check.
  • By EIP Prepaid Debit Card. These cards are not a scam. Read the NCLC's fact sheet about the EIP Prepaid Cards to learn what these cards look like and how to cash or use the card without fees.
    • Look for an envelope that has the return address of Money Network Cardholder Services, PO Box 247022, Omaha, NE 68124
    • If you got a card but threw it away, call 800-240-8100. Replacement cards are free.

 

What do I need to do to get the money?

These payments are being issued based on information the IRS already has on file.

  • If the IRS has your information on file, you do not have to do anything to get your second payment. 
  • If the IRS does not have your information on file, you can get it by filing a 2020 tax return and claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. You will need to file a tax return even if you do not normally file one if you want to get this payment.

 

The IRS has your information if:

  • You filed a 2019 tax return,
  • You entered information using the Non-Filers tool on the IRS website in order to get your first payment,
  • You get Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI , VA or Railroad Retirement benefits.

 

The IRS may not have your information if:

  • You did not enter information using the IRS's Non-filers tool by November 21, 2020 or file a simplified tax return AND you
    • Did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because your income was under $12,200 (or $24,000 for married couples).

    • Were not required to file a 2019 or 2019 federal income tax for other reasons, or 

    • Get Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI , VA or Railroad Retirement benefits and you have a child under 17. Although the IRS will have your information, they will not have information about your dependents. 

 


How to get your first stimulus payment (from March 2020 Covid relief bill)

As part of the CARES Act, some taxpayers will get a payment from the federal government. This money is called an “economic impact payment.”

 

Who is eligible?

  • People who made under $75,000/year ($150,000 for a married couple) will get the full payment. 

    • The full payment is $1200 for an individual and $2,400 for married couples. 

      • Parents will get $500 for each child they claim as a dependent. 

  • People who made under $99,000/year ($198,000 for a married couple) will get a partial payment.

 

Who is not eligible?

  • People who made over $99,000/year ($198,000 for married couples) will not get a payment. 

  • If someone else claimed you as a dependent on their taxes (like college students), you cannot get a payment.

 

How can I get the money?

If you filed your 2019 or 2018 income taxes, you probably do not have to do anything to get your payment. The IRS announced on March 30, 2020 that payments would begin in the next 3 weeks. 

  • If you had your federal tax return direct deposited, your payment will also be made by direct deposit to that same bank account.

  • If you the IRS does not have your direct deposit information:

 

If you get Social Security, Railroad Retirement, VA, SSDI or SSI benefits, you do not have to do anything to get your payment. Your money will be directly deposited.

  • However, if you have a child under 17, you will need to go to the IRS website and provide information about your dependents in order to get the extra $500 for each child. YOU MUST DO THIS BY NOVEMBER 21, 2020.

 

If you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and do not get Social Security, Railroad Retirement, VA, SSDI or SSI benefits, you will have to file a tax return to get an economic impact payment. 

 

If I need to file a simple tax return or enter information about my dependents, where do I go?

You need to provide the IRS with your payment information in order to get your stimulus money if you:

  • Did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because your income was under $12,200 (or $24,000 for married couples).

  • Were not required to file a 2019 or 2019 federal income tax for other reasons, or 

  • Get Social Security retirement, SSDI, SSI , VA or Railroad Retirement benefits and you have a child under 17, you will need to provide additional information to the IRS to get the stimulus money for your dependents. YOU MUST DO THIS BY NOVEMBER 21, 2020.

 

Information You will Need to Provide

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address

  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number

  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one

  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one

  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one

  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse

 

What to Expect

Go to the IRS website and click “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here.” This will take you from the IRS site to Free File Fillable Forms, a certified IRS partner. This site is safe and secure.

 

Follow these steps in order to provide your information:

  • Create an account by providing your email address and phone number; and establishing a user ID and password.

  • You will be directed to a screen where you will input your filing status (Single or Married filing jointly) and personal information.

  • Note: Make sure you have a valid Social Security number for you (and your spouse if you were married at the end of 2019) unless you are filing “Married Filing Jointly” with a 2019 member of the military. Make sure you have a valid Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number for each dependent you want to claim for the Economic Impact Payment.

  • Check the “box” if someone can claim you as a dependent or your spouse as a dependent.

  • Complete your bank information (otherwise we will send you a check).

  • You will be directed to another screen where you will enter personal information to verify yourself. Simply follow the instructions. You will need your driver’s license (or state-issued ID) information. If you don’t have one, leave it blank.

 

You will receive an e-mail from Customer Service at Free File Fillable Forms that either acknowledges you have successfully submitted your information, or that tells you there is a problem and how to correct it. Free File Fillable forms will use the information to automatically complete a Form 1040 and transmit it to the IRS to compute and send you a payment.

 

Can this money be garnished?

Possibly. If there is a legal judgment against you or a garnishment order on your bank account, you may want to get your payment as a check rather than a direct deposit. But, getting your money in check form will most likely delay your payment. 

 

Can I get unemployment if I get an economic impact payment?

Yes. You can do both. The economic impact payment is separate from unemployment benefits. If your work is affected by Covid-19, you should apply for unemployment.

Help with Unemployment +

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Many Covid-19 Unemployment enhancements ended June 26, 2021 

The State of Georgia announced that as of June 26, 2021 it will no longer participate in the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, including:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA),
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC),
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

Starting June 27, 2021 to qualify for unemployment you must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work (known as "work search requirements.").

 

Also starting June 27, 2021 the earning disregard rule that allowed earnings up to $300 per week to be disregarded when calculating the weekly benefit amount will be reduced to $150 per week.

 

Visit the Georgia DOL website for the most up-to-date information on unemployment benefits.

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Should I file an unemployment claim?

If your work or opportunity to work is affected by the Covid-19 crisis, you should apply for unemployment insurance benefits.

 

At this time in Georgia, you can only apply for unemployment insurance online or by phone. 

 

Read How to File an Unemployment Claim from the Georgia Department of Labor to learn how to file a claim online (this links to a PDF which may not be fully accessible) or call your local career center to file by phone. Visit the GDOL website for answers to frequently asked questions and to learn what to do after you file an unemployment claim.

 

Find Tutorials for Requesting Payment on the GDOL website.

 

If you are having problems applying or getting your claim processed, contact the GDOL:

 

Hearings. The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) holds appeals hearings for Unemployment Insurance cases (both Appeals Tribunal and Board of Review hearings) by telephone and these will continue as scheduled

  • IF YOUR INITIAL CLAIM IS DENIED, file an appeal and then continue to file unemployment claims while your appeal is heard. Read more about how to file an appeal on the GDOL website.

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Zero-premium health care plans for people who got Unemployment in 2021

If you got or were approved for Unemployment Compensation for at least one week in 2021, you are now eligible to enroll in a zero-premium health insurance plan with the maximum cost-sharing reductions on HealthCare.gov. 

 

This means that you can get health insurance through the Marketplace and not pay a monthly premium. As long as you got or were determined eligible for unemployment at some point in 2021, you can get this benefit no matter what your yearly income is for the year. 

 

If you enroll in a new plan, you will automatically be asked whether you got unemployment on the application.

 

  • You can enroll in Marketplace health coverage through August 15.
  • But if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period you can enroll at any time. You may qualify due to a life event like
    • losing other coverage,
    • getting married,
    • moving, or
    • having a baby.

 

If you are already enrolled in a healthcare plan, you will need to go back to their application on Healthcare.gov and select “Report a Life Change.”

 

To enroll in a healthcare plan or update your application, go to Healthcare.gov. 

 

To learn more about this and other Premium Tax Credit benefits increased by the American Rescue Plan on the Health Reform Beyond the Basics website. 

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Help Applying for Benefits +

In addition to Unemployment Insurance, you may qualify for federal, state and local benefits that can provide help with food, health insurance and income. Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org to see what benefits you might qualify for. Some benefits you might apply for:

Due to Covid-19, the government has announced changes to who qualifies for some benefits

 

SNAP (Food Stamps).  If you are out of work or low-income, even if you were denied food stamps in the past, you should apply now:

 

College student expansion. If you are a college student, you may qualify for SNAP benefits during the Covid-19 crisis.

 

Changes to the law mean that more students are eligible for SNAP, or “food stamps.” A single individual gets $234 in benefits a month that can be used to buy food.

 

You may qualify if:

  • Your gross monthly income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level,

  • You live or intend to live in Georgia,

  • You are a US citizen, US National, or eligible immigrant.

 

You must also meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are 17 years old or younger, or 50 years old or older;

  • You have a disability;

  • You receive TANF benefits or are enrolled in a TANF JOBS program;

  • You work at least 20 hours a week in paid employment;

  • You participate or are eligible to participate in state or federally financed work study during the regular school year,

  • You participate in an on-the-job training program;

  • You care for a child under the age of 6,

  • You care for a child between 6-11 and do not have adequate child care,

  • You are a single parent to a child under 12 and are enrolled in full-time college;

  • You are in college through a qualifying government employment and training program, OR

  • You have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year. 

 

Apply for SNAP benefits online at Gateway.ga.gov.


Medicaid. You can apply for Medicaid benefits: 

  • Online or
  • By phone at (877) 423-4746

 

Medicaid members can also visit their Care Management Organizations’ (CMOs) websites to find helpful information on COVID-19:

 

Help with Housing (Evictions, Foreclosures, Mortgages) +

Evictions.

The CDC eviction moratorium has expired. However, evictions may still be banned in your area. Check your county's website for eviction information. 

 

Learn more about Emergency Rental Assistance in Georgia on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website.

 

If you are served with an eviction notice:

  • Make sure to file an answer in the case and attend any court hearings

  • Contact Georgia Legal Services or Atlanta Legal Aid. 
    • For help in Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, or DeKalb County, contact Atlanta Legal Aid. Fill out the Atlanta Legal Aid online intake application or call 404-524-5811 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.

    • If you live in any other Georgia county, contact the Georgia Legal Services Program for help. Access the GLSP online intake application or call 1-833-457-7529 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.

 


Mortgage and Foreclosure Help. If you are having trouble paying your mortgage read this guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to learn about your options. 

 

What if I can't pay my mortgage?

There is a moratorium on foreclosures for single family homes with federally backed mortages through July 31, 2021. 

 

You may also request a forebearance on your mortgage payments through September 30, 2021.

 

Federally-backed mortgages are ones owned or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the FHA, VA, or USDA. 

 

How do I find out if my mortgage is federally-backed? 

Fannie and Freddie own about half of the U.S. mortgage loans, and most people have no idea their mortgage is owned by Fannie or Freddie. Homeowners can check whether their loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by using the agencies’ loan look up tools and can confirm whether their loan is FHA-insured by reviewing their loan documents and mortgage statements. 

 

What does a forbearance mean? 

A forbearance means the servicer will allow you to send no payment, or a reduced payment, for a period of time. At the end of the forbearance period, you owe those skipped payments, but your servicer can agree to modify your loan or put the missed payments at the end of the loan. It’s important to contact your servicer before the forbearance is over to apply for help if you will not be able to pay the skipped payments all at once. 

 

How do I get a forbearance?

You have to contact your mortgage servicer (the company that takes your payments normally) to ask for a forbearance. Some companies have long wait times on the phone. Try the servicer’s website to see if you can ask for a forbearance online. You may be asked to submit a hardship letter. 

 

What if my loan is not federally-backed? 

Many mortgage companies are offering forbearance plans for all of their loans. Contact your servicer to ask for a forbearance if you need one. Remember to reach back out before the forbearance is over if you’re going to need a loan modification. 

 

Are foreclosure sales happening in Georgia right now? 

If you have a federally-backed mortgage, those foreclosures have been stopped until July 31, 2021 unless the property is vacant or abandoned. 

 

If your mortgage is not federally-backed, Georgia has not entered a statewide order blocking foreclosure sales. However, it’s possible your lender may have decided to cancel the sale, possibly due to a local stay-at-home order. The only way to be sure whether a sale is happening is to call the law firm that sent you the foreclosure letter and ask. If they tell you the sale has been canceled, ask them to confirm by fax or email. If they refuse to send it in writing, you can send a fax or email yourself confirming the cancellation in writing. 

 

Foreclosures in Georgia are the first Tuesday of every month.

 

If my home has been foreclosed, do I have to move out? 

After a foreclosure sale, the person that buys the home in the auction must file an eviction in the county in which you live. If you get served with an eviction lawsuit, you may have an extension of time to file an answer if your county court has entered an emergency order. Call or check the court’s website. However, if you wait to file an answer, you must file your answer as soon as the emergency order is lifted. If you file an answer now, a hearing will not be scheduled until the emergency order is lifted. Once your hearing is scheduled, you should attend the hearing. When that hearing happens, the judge will likely give you only seven days after the hearing in which to move.

 

Emergency Broadband Benefit +

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is offering money towards broadband internet service and technology for people in low-income households. 

 

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide:

  • Up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households, and 

  • Up to $75 per month towards for households on qualifying Tribal lands,

  • A one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

    • You must contribute between $10 and $50 toward the purchase price. 

 

Your household is eligible for the benefit if you meet one of the following:

  • Your household has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;

  • Your household gets benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, 

    • This includes the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;

  • You received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;

  • You had a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or

  • Your household meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

 

If you are eligible, there are three ways to apply:

  • Contact a participating broadband provider directly.

  • Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.

  • Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to:
    Emergency Broadband Support Center
    P.O. Box 7081
    London, KY 40742

 

Once you get a notification that you are eligible, you can contact a service provider to select an Emergency Broadband Benefit eligible service plan.

 

Learn more about the Broadband Benefit on the FCC website.

Emergency Rental Assistance +

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What is Emergency Rental Assistance?

If you are unable to pay your rent or utility bills, you may qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance. Emergency Rental Assistance provides financial help for:

  • past due or future rent,

  • past due or future utility bills, and

  • In some cases, to help secure housing.

 

In most cases, the money goes directly to the landlord or utility company. In certain situations, though, the money could be paid to the applicant. 

 

You may be eligible if you:

  • Qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due directly or indirectly to COVID-19; and 

  • You demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; AND

  • You have a household income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

 

You will be given priority for assistance if:

  • Your household is at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or

  • One or more household members are unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 days. 

 

Look up the Area Median Income (AMI) for your area on the Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

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How do I apply for Emergency Rental Assistance?

Apply online through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website

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Other Help Paying Rent +

Find help with rent and utilities on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. 

 

CITY OF ATLANTA 

 

CLAYTON COUNTY

404-363-0575 ext. 242

 

COBB COUNTY

  • Center for Family Resources: (770) 428-2601  

  • Cobb County Homesaver Program: https://cobbhomesaver.org 

  • Hope Atlanta: (404) 272-2931

  • Must Ministries: (770) 427–9862 

  • Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church: (770) 971-2880

  • Eastside Baptist Church: (770) 971-2323

  • First United Methodist Church: (770) 429-7800

  • Providence Community Baptist Church: (770) 427-3565

  • St. Joseph Catholic Church: (770) 422-5633

  • Salvation Army: (770) 724-1652

  • Star-C: https://www.star-c.org/eviction-relief/; hello@star-c.org; 404-698-3781

  • Storehouse Ministries: (770) 428-8410 

  • Turner Chapel AME Church: (770) 422-6791

  • Zion Baptist Church: (770) 427-8749

 

DEKALB COUNTY (this list does not include all available rental assistance in DeKalb)

  • United Way: 2-1-1

  • DeKalb County Coordinated Entry: 404-687-3500

  • Star-C: https://www.star-c.org/eviction-relief/; hello@star-c.org; 404-698-3781

  • Hosea Helps: 404-755-3353

  • Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS): 770-936-0969


 

FULTON COUNTY 

 

GWINNETT COUNTY

  • Georgia Gateway: https://gateway.ga.gov/access/ 

  • Latin American Association: 678-205-1018

  • Salvation Army of Gwinnett County: 770-724-1661

  • St. Vincent de Paul: 678-892-6163

  • United Way: 211

Help with Marketplace Health Insurance +

If you got or were approved for Unemployment Compensation for at least one week in 2021, you are now eligible to enroll in a zero-premium health insurance plan with the maximum cost-sharing reductions on HealthCare.gov. 

 

This means that you can get health insurance through the Marketplace and not pay a monthly premium. As long as you got or were determined eligible for unemployment at some point in 2021, you can get this benefit no matter what your yearly income is for the year. 

 

If you enroll in a new plan, you will automatically be asked whether you got unemployment on the application.

  • You can enroll in Marketplace health coverage through August 15.
  • But if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period you can enroll at any time. You may qualify due to a life event like
    • losing other coverage,
    • getting married,
    • moving, or
    • having a baby.

 

If you are already enrolled in a healthcare plan, you will need to go back to their application on Healthcare.gov and select “Report a Life Change.

 

To enroll in a healthcare plan or update your application, go to Healthcare.gov. 

 

To learn more about this and other Premium Tax Credit benefits increased by the American Rescue Plan on the Health Reform Beyond the Basics website. 

 

Emergency Food Help +

  • Find a food pantry or food bank near you.
  • Local school districts are providing meals to students while their schools are closed. Contact your local school district to find out where meals can be found near you.

Domestic Violence Resources +

If you are worried about being isolated in your home with an abuser or are experiencing abuse or violence of any kind, please reach out. Here are organizations that you can contact.

Avoid Scams +

Learn what Covid-19 related scams to watch out for and how to avoid them:

Remote Hearings in Georgia +

This information was prepared by Transcend® Translations

 

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How do I know if I have a remote hearing?

Because of COVID-19 many courtrooms are closed, and most court hearings are now remote. That means some or all of the people participate by video or by phone. Read below to know how to prepare for a remote hearing. The court will notify you if your hearing is remote. They may contact you by U.S. mail, email, or phone. They will also notify the other parties in your case.

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What if I don’t have Internet or a phone?

Contact the court as soon as possible. They may:

  • Postpone the hearing until everyone can participate safely, or

  • Help you find a way to participate, such as free hot spots, or access to a free phone or Internet.

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What if I cannot join at the scheduled hearing time?

You must have a good reason why you cannot be present at the scheduled time. And you must tell the court before the hearing. Go to your court’s website. It will explain how to contact the court.

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Will the court tell me how to join the remote hearing?

  • Yes. The court will send you instructions on how to join your remote hearing by video or by phone.

  • Courts may use different apps and processes. Visit your court’s website or call your court to find out how your court does remote hearings.

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How do I get ready for my remote hearing?  

  • Make sure you have a good Internet connection.

  • Download Zoom (or other app your court uses). Practice with the app so you feel comfortable.

  • Charge your computer or mobile device. If you are calling in by phone, make sure you have enough minutes.

  • Use earbuds or headphones, if you can. This frees up your hands, and improves sound quality.

  • Email the court any evidence, like documents or photos.

  • Tell the court if you have witnesses. The court will tell them how to join the hearing.

 

  • Get Your Space Ready!

    • Find a quiet place where no one will interrupt you.

    • Have all your papers ready, including a list of what you want to say to the judge.

    • Know what time your hearing starts and how to log on or what number to call.

  • Look Good!

    • Set the camera at your eye level. If using your phone, prop it up so you can look at it without holding it.

    • Look at the camera, not the screen, when you speak.

    • Dress neatly. Wear soft solid colors.

    • Sit in a well-lit room, not too dark, not too bright. No bright lights behind you.

  • Sound Good!

    • Pause before speaking in case there is any audio/video lag.

    • Mute yourself when not speaking to improve sound quality.

    • Say your name each time you speak.

    • Talk slowly and do not interrupt. 

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What should I expect during the hearing?

  • When you first join, the judge will take you from a “waiting room” to the “hearing room.” Only the people in your case will be in your hearing room.

  • The judge will make sure you can hear and talk, and go over all the rules.

  • You will see a picture or name of each person in your hearing on your screen. The first one you see is the person who is speaking.

  • Your hearing is live and will be recorded. Everyone there can hear what you say. It may even be open to the public.

  • The judge decides most cases at the end of the hearing.

Important! You may be connecting from home, but it is still a court hearing. Pay attention, and follow all rules.

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Need legal help?

  • For help in Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, or DeKalb County, contact Atlanta Legal Aid. Fill out the Atlanta Legal Aid online intake application or call 404-524-5811 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.
  • If you live in any other Georgia county, contact the Georgia Legal Services Program for help. Access the GLSP online intake application or call 1-833-457-7529 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.

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Utility Information +

Community Organizations Offering Help +

We are continually working to add to this list. 

  • The Giving Kitchen. Offering financial help to food service workers in crisis due to an unexpected illness, injury, death of an immediate family member or housing disaster in Georgia. 
  • Meals on Wheels. Delivers meals to seniors.

  • Open Hand. Delivers healthy meals to people who might otherwise go without food in Atlanta.

  • Aunt Bertha. Find food pantries, housing assistance and cash assistance programs in Georgia. 

  • United Way. Find community resources. You can also text GACovid19 to 898-211 to receive a list of available resources or text 211od to 898211 to receive a list of referrals based on your zip code.

Student Loan Payments +

If you are unable to pay your student loans, you may be able to request a forbearance. This means that you will not have to pay your loans for a period of time. In light of Covid-19, the federal government announced that it will:

  • Give an administrative forbearance to people with federal student loans, and

  • It will stop interest on federally held student loans.

 

This ONLY applies to loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education, which include:

  • Direct Loans,

  • some Perkins Loans, and 

    • This does not apply if your Perkins loans are owned by your school.

  • some Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL).

    • This does not apply to FFEL loans owned by a commercial lender.


To find out whether your loans are eligible or to request a forbearance, contact your loan servicer online or by phone. Your servicer is where you make your monthly payment. If you do not know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY for the deaf or hearing-impaired 1-800-730-8913) for assistance.

Small Business Help +

All small businesses that are affected by Covid-19 are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 


The Small Business Administration (SBA) can provide up to $2 million. The loan is based on the actual economic injury and your company’s financial needs. Go to the SBA website to learn more and apply. The deadline to apply is December 18, 2020.

Parenting Time/ Custody Agreements during Covid-19 +

Governor Kemp issued a statement that the stay-in-place order DOES NOT change any parenting time or custody agreement that you already have in place. 

 

If you have a parenting time or custody agreement, you should continue to follow the agreement. 


If your agreement follows a school year schedule, some courts have decided that parents should continue to follow the school calendar even though children are not in school. Check with your county’s family court to see if this is true for you.

School Discipline Issues +

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Can my school discipline me for staying home during a pandemic when the school is not offering distance learning or its distance learning program does not have space for me?

Compulsory attendance

 

Yes, Georgia does have a compulsory school attendance law.  It has not been waived. If the school you are enrolled in does not offer a virtual option and is open for in-person school then you must attend.  Georgia students between the ages of 6 and 16 are required to be enrolled in and attend school.  But, you do not have to attend your zoned school. You can:

  • enroll in a private school,

  • attend a charter school,

  • attend a state virtual school, or

  • homeschool.

 

Students with IEPs

 

You can try to work with the school on options that might work to keep you and your family safe. If you have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) then you can have an IEP meeting to discuss the option of school from home. This is true even if your school system does not offer virtual school.  But it will be a decision for the IEP team to make together; the parent and child are members of this team. Students with IEPs can get a special scholarship called the Special Needs Scholarship Program.  Find information on the Department of Education website.

 

Online Schools in Georgia

 

You can enroll in an online school. Some school systems have their own virtual schools, but there are also statewide virtual schools.  The following is not an endorsement of these schools. This is only information about these virtual options.  Here are the virtual schools available to all students in Georgia:

 

Georgia Connections Academy

Connections Academy only has openings for its 12th grade class as of August 6, 2020.  It might open up more classes if there is a demand.

 

Georgia Cyber Academy 

Georgia Cyber Academy has openings for all grades as of August 6, 2020. Enrollment is open through August 30, 2020. 

 

Georgia Virtual School 

Georgia  Virtual School’s enrollment is open through September 10, 2020.  Virtual School is a new online school, and it is also not clear if all grade levels have openings.

 

Hospital Homebound

 

If you are vulnerable to Covid-19 exposure, you can ask the school for Hospital Homebound Services. These are often supposed to be temporary (ten days or less). Find information on the Department of Education website.

 

Home Schooling

 

You can consider asking your parents to file paperwork to homeschool you. Find information on the Department of Education website.

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What if the hallways are crowded and full of students without masks?  How can I keep safe? 

You can talk to your school to get better policies in place like:

  • less students in the building at a time,

  • staggering time in the hallways,

  • giving more time to get between classes,

  • having students go outside instead of through crowded main halls,

  • requiring masks,

  • requiring everyone to wear pool noodles to show how far apart they need to be even in the halls, or

  • whatever else you think might help. 

 

You can hang back in an empty area until the hallway is clear if the school will not modify its policies. If you are disciplined, explain that your school failed to keep you safe, so you waited to keep yourself safe.

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Can my school discipline me for telling others about the conditions at my school?

No, but this does not mean that your school won’t attempt to discipline you for such actions.  You have a right to speak about what happens at school. But, you may be disciplined if you start naming minor children or taking photographs. 

  • Do not share the names of other children and be very careful before taking any photographs at school. 
  • Do not post to social media or share photos while on school property.

 

Tell someone if your school tells you that you cannot speak about the conditions at your school. You have the right to freedom of speech.  You can speak to a parent or guardian. You can contact Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) or Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS) to help you figure out your options.

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Can my school discipline me for taking photos or posting to social media at school?

Maybe. You need to read your student code of conduct.  It should be online on your school and school system’s website. Schools should provide you with a copy at the beginning of each school year. If nothing in the student code of conduct prohibits you from taking photographs, then you can take photographs. 

 

Read the code of conduct carefully. Often schools prohibit the use of telephones during school or during certain times at school. If you are using your cell phone to take a photograph or post to social media, the school might try to discipline you for using your cell phone during a time it is not allowed. You might be able to defend yourself if the school does not usually enforce this rule, but the school can still go forward with a school disciplinary action.

 

The amount of discipline should also be determined by the code of conduct and must use a progressive discipline policy. This means that the school should not discipline you the same for a first offense as it would if you violated this part of the code of conduct in the past.

 

If you are using a school camera or taking photos for the yearbook, then you should not provide those photos to anyone outside of the school. Sometimes there are laws that regulate the way that photos of children can be released when they are school property.

 

If you are using your own camera, there is not a law in Georgia that prohibits a student from taking photographs of children or others at school and sharing them as long as you are not bullying or threatening others.  But again, check your local ordinances and school code of conduct.

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Can my school discipline me without providing me with a school disciplinary hearing?

Yes, it can.  The school only has to provide you with a hearing when it gives you more than ten days of out of school suspension.  Your school can:

  • suspend you for less than that without a hearing or

  • give you in school suspension or detention without providing you with a hearing. 

However, you can ask to have a meeting to discuss what happened with your school to ask to clear your record if you did not violate the school code of conduct. 

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What if the school code of conduct does not seem fair to me?

You can tell people about it and talk about why you do not think it’s fair.  You can go to school board meetings and ask to change the policy.  You can join or start a group to ask the school system to change the policy. Gwinnett County has a group called Gwinnett STOPP that works to improve the code of conduct for Gwinnett students.

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Can I get help if I am being disciplined at school for any of these reasons?

Yes, GLSP (outside of metro Atlanta) and ALAS (Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Cobb counties) take applications to represent students in school discipline and IEP cases. 

 

If you are a foster child, then you can ask GLSP, ALAS, or Georgia Appleseed for representation in a school disciplinary hearing. 

 

Georgia Appleseed has a network of volunteer attorneys to represent foster youths in these hearings. All of these services are free, but you can also hire a private attorney by checking the Georgia Bar Directory or a local bar directory.

 

If you cannot get an attorney to represent you in a school disciplinary hearing, you should look at information on this website and on Georgia Appleseed’s website for advice on how to represent yourself.

 

For help in Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, or DeKalb County, contact Atlanta Legal Aid. Fill out the Atlanta Legal Aid online intake application or call 404-524-5811 (main line), 404-657-9915 (GA Senior Legal Hotline), to see if you qualify for legal assistance.

 

If you live in any other Georgia county, contact the Georgia Legal Services Program for help. Access the GLSP online intake application or call 1-833-457-7529 to see if you qualify for legal assistance.

 

Contact Georgia Appleseed online or at (678) 426-4640.

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FAQs for Parents/Guardians of Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 +

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My child has an IEP. They got individualized supports and services when schools were in session. What does the school have to do now that schools are closed?

The school still has to follow your child’s IEP. Students with disabilities have a right to all the supports and services that the child needs to:

  • access educational benefit and

  • make progress.

This is called a “free and appropriate public education,” or FAPE. The U.S. Department of Education said that schools should not stop all education services to avoid providing IEP services.

 

So what does this mean in real life? The school has to follow the IEP as closely as possible while schools are closed. Most school districts in Georgia are providing all students:

  • online instruction or

  • take-home materials.

If your child with a disability finds it difficult to learn online or from take-home packets, you have a right to individualized supports. These supports should help your child learn and make progress while school is closed. Communicate these needs to the school in writing and follow-up with them. Some individualized supports your child might need include:

  • oral reading of course material or

  • pre-scheduled one-on-one time with a teacher. 

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Will the Department of Education waive the requirements for special education students?

No, not as of April 15, 2020. It could, but it has not waived these requirements. The U.S. Department of Education has 30 days to request waivers of special education services. The thirty days should end on April 27, 2020.  Unless this happens, school districts have to meet all special education laws. We will likely know more on April 27 about what to expect for special education for the future. 

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In the past, my child’s school has had to meet deadlines for holding IEP meetings. Do deadlines for initial eligibility meetings and annual reviews of my child’s IEP still apply? 

Generally, yes. At this time, schools should still:

  • provide special education services and

  • follow specific deadlines.

Deadlines can be met through teleconferencing and other remote options. IEP teams should continue to follow deadlines so long as it can be done in a safe and workable way. We do recommend that parents be reasonable. Consider rescheduling an IEP meeting for the fall if:

  • the IEP is working for now, and

  • the school is acting in good faith to follow the current IEP.  

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Can the school take away services from my student with an IEP?

Not without changing the IEP. Your child’s current IEP remains in effect. 

 

Your child’s school might try to get you to agree to a reduction in services:

  • in an IEP meeting or

  • by asking you to change or amend the IEP in writing without having an IEP meeting.

You do not have to agree to the school’s suggestions or sign anything.

 

Parents and caregivers should be somewhat flexible during this crisis. But, you have every right to work with your school to make sure that your child receives as many of their necessary services as possible. A child’s IEP content, goals, and services should not be reduced based on school closures. You should work with your school to develop new approaches to:

  • meet your child’s IEP goals and

  • get the service your child needs. 

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My child’s IEP included one-on-one counseling/in-person occupational therapy/hands-on physical therapy. I’m worried my child will fall behind without these services. What can I do right now?

So far, the U.S. Department of Education has said that schools have to provide special education services to the greatest extent possible. The U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) asked for “parents, educators, and administrators to collaborate creatively to continue to meet the needs of students with disabilities."

 

Some in-person, hands-on services cannot safely or effectively happen during this time. But, OSERS asks schools to give all the disability-related accommodations and services possible. GaDOE guidance is similar.  They require school districts to consider alternative means of providing necessary therapies. Some schools have allowed students to hold therapy sessions by phone or video. 

 

If there is a service or support that you know your child needs to succeed, you should discuss that service with your child’s school.

 

The school district may be unable to provide the exact service that will most benefit your child. However, the school must work with you to come up with creative solutions. School districts across the country have developed creative alternatives for children. If you are concerned about your child’s progress while schools are closed, reach out to your child’s:

  • teacher(s),

  • school psychologists, or

  • special education directors.

Check the GaDOE website for resources and ideas. As a parent, you have the right to suggest other options to try for now instead of direct services. 

 

If your child needs a service that the school district cannot give now, you might have a right to compensatory education. Compensatory education are services provided to a child to make up for services that the school failed to provide.  See more about compensatory education below.

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My child’s IEP included social or behavioral goals. How can my child progress on those goals while schools are closed?

The school district should continue to provide supports if your child’s IEP includes:

  • behavior goals and

  • specific supports for their social-emotional learning.

 

If your student was working through a social-emotional curriculum program, the school should continue to provide:

  • access to that program and

  • support for the student to make progress in that program.

If your student’s IEP includes social skills development, the school should continue to provide those services. The school should also provide time for your student to interact with other students over the phone or computer.

 

There are also some free online social-emotional learning resources that parents can try. You can also ask your child’s teachers/psychologists/social workers to use them. 

 

Your child might also be able to get compensatory education when schools reopen. Compensatory education is to make up for skills and progress lost during the COVID-19 closures. See below for more information about compensatory education. 

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My child’s school is offering online education. This is difficult for my child with a disability. What can I do?

Any instruction or service the school gives to its students must also be available to students with disabilities. Schools must provide these services in an accessible format. For example, if your child has a disability that makes online instruction difficult, learning must be adapted for your child’s needs. OSERS encourages creativity in light of the practical constraints COVID-19 presents. For instance, if most students get school work in writing, a teacher can give visually impaired students an audio recording.

 

Services that most schools can continue to provide include:

  • smaller groups,

  • chunking assignments,

  • one-on-one help, and

  • extra time. 

 

If your child is struggling, you should:

  • Tell the school in writing that the current setup is not working and your child is not progressing on her IEP goals.

  • ask for an IEP meeting to discuss services that will work for your child. You can also ask in writing about how to put in place appropriate services for your child.

  • keep records of the school’s response and detail how and what they are providing to your child. 

 

You may also find it helpful to review your student’s IEP. See what supports your student received while school was in session. Did your child receive graphic organizers, laptops, or personalized checklists to help with tasks? There is no reason those services cannot continue while schools are closed.

 

Ask others what they think would most help your child with a disability learn from home. You might ask:

  • your child’s teachers,

  • school psychologists,

  • behavior analysts,

  • therapists,

  • medical providers,

  • mentors,

  • pastors,

  • tutors, or

  • family members.

Share this information with your child’s school. You should also document your child’s progress as much as possible.

 

Your child might able to get compensatory education if:

  • Your child was meeting her goals before the school closed, but

  • Is behind by the time school opens again.

See below for more information about compensatory education.

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My child could definitely benefit from extra help from school right now. But I am already overburdened caring and providing for my family. Where do I turn to for help?

You should notify the school that you are not able to implement your child’s IEP. Tell the school that your child is not receiving an appropriate education. You should share any suggestions you may have, or call for an IEP meeting. The IEP team must come up with solutions to make sure your child gets a free appropriate public education.

 

You should always document the school’s response and plans to address your child’s needs. This documentation will help if there is any confusion when your child returns to school. 

 

You may also seek out an attorney or advocate who can work with you to make sure your child’s needs are met. See below for information about attorneys who may be able to help you.

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Can I ask for an IEP meeting while schools are closed?

Yes. The Georgia Department of Education has encouraged school districts to hold virtual IEP meetings. If you believe an IEP meeting is necessary, do not hesitate to ask for one. Your child’s school still has to provide you with notice of the IEP meeting.

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My child was in the middle of undergoing an evaluation when schools closed. Can/should the evaluation continue?

It depends. The Georgia Department of Education has said:

  • Evaluations and assessments should continue if they can be done online or remotely.

  • But, if in-person meetings or observations are required, evaluations might be delayed if there is no safe alternative.

 

Evaluations are very important to determine a child’s needs and services. Evaluations should be thorough and completed by a professional without any shortcuts. If an evaluation cannot be done  properly without face-to-face contact, you may have to wait until schools are back in session.

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How can my child’s progress be monitored while learning from home?

Progress monitoring data should still be collected while your child learns from home. Ask your child’s teachers how they plan to track the data for each of your child’s IEP goals. You should try to keep track of your child’s data and progress. This way, when the IEP team meets next, you will have some information about how your child did during this time. At a minimum, you should:

  • document your child’s progress at the start and end of the school closure, and/or

  • Ask for this information from your child’s school.

Any lack in progress or regression (forgetting what was learned or losing skills) during school closure may entitle your child to compensatory education.

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Can I ask for an evaluation while schools are closed?

Yes, absolutely. An evaluation might be especially useful to observe how your student learns in a remote or online education setting. Ask your child’s school about conducting an evaluation online or remotely. Of course, there may be some limitations to evaluations.

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Compensatory Education. I believe my child with a disability will fall behind while schools are closed. What can be done to help my child catch up when schools reopen?

Your child might have a right to compensatory education if:

  • your child needs supports or services to progress that they can't get while school is closed, and

  • What the school district is offering is not enough for your child to progress.

The Georgia Board of Education asks local school districts to consider compensatory education for students whose individual needs cannot be met in a remote setting. 

 

So what does this mean in real life? If they can't meet your child’s needs during this time, the school district should give them extra instruction and services later. In other words, schools should make up for the services that could not be done while school is closed. This is called compensatory education. Compensatory services are to make up for IEP services that should have been done by the school, but were not. 

 

Document your child's progress when school closed and when it reopens. This information is key to determining whether your child needs compensatory education.

  • Track your child’s learning.  

  • Record everything you do and everything the school does to follow your child’s IEP.

  • To decide what services your child needs, you can record your child doing schoolwork. This will document how your child is currently performing. You should keep work samples. Share these things with the school.

  • Ask for any records that the school has about how your child performed before the schools closed.

  • Keep records of everything you ask the school and their responses to your requests.

  • If you have an IEP meeting, ask for compensatory education and Extended School Year (ESY) to be a part of the plan.  Explain that your child fell behind and/or you expect that your child will not advance or will regress. 

 

Compensatory education is different from Extended School Year (ESY). Even if your child’s IEP team decides that they need ESY over the summer, your child may also have a right to extra instruction or services. These extra services are to compensate for losses due to COVID-19 school closures.

 

The data and information that you collect during this crisis will be important. This information will determine:

  • whether your child can get compensatory education, and

  • what those services will look like.

 

The information listed is current as of April 15, 2020, and is subject to change.

 

For updated information, you should:

  • check the State Board of Education website and

  • stay in contact with your local school district. 


An attorney or advocate may be able to assist you throughout this process. 

 

If you live in Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb, Fulton or Gwinnett counties you can contact the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS) for help.  ALAS represents low-income Georgians in education matters.  Their office is open even during the covid 19 crisis, but employees are working from home.  You can contact 

 

If you live outside of the Atlanta area, you can contact the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP).  GLSP represents low-income Georgians in education matters. GLSP is still accepting cases and employees are working from home. Contact 1-833-GLSPLAW to see if you are eligible for help. 

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Last Review and Update: Aug 31, 2021