GeorgiaLegalAid.orgGeorgia

Georgia Covid-19 Resource List

Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. LSC Funded
Read this in:
Spanish / Español

Health Information +

  • 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.

Georgia Court and Agency Closings +

On March 14, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a statewide judicial emergency. This means that all Georgia Courts will be stopping all but “essential functions” through at least May 13, 2020. These functions include:

  • where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available; 

  • criminal court search warrants, arrest warrants, initial appearances, and bond reviews;

  • domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders; 

  • juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters; and 

  • mental health commitment hearings.


If you have an ongoing court case in a Georgia State court, contact the court where your case was filed to find out the status of your case. Hearings, filing deadlines, and more will most likely be postponed. Read all state court emergency orders on the Georgia Courts website.


Many government agencies are also closing their offices, which may affect the status of administrative hearings and how you apply for benefits.

  • Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings. In response to COVID-19, OSAH hearings at ALL hearing locations have been cancelled for March 16 through March 31.

  • Social Security Agency. All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Online services remain available. Local offices will continue to provide critical services over the phone.

  • Public Housing Authorities. Many PHAs are closing their offices. Check with your local housing authority to see if it is closed.
  • Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS). The Division of Family & Children Services offices are open and operating; however DFCS is temporarily reducing in-person operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You are encouraged to use self-service options during this time.
  • Department of Veterans Service. GDVS field service offices remain open and ready to assist veterans and their families. Offices located in VA medical centers and clinics may have reduced visitation due to COVID-19. Please call your local office before visiting.
  • State Board of Workers’ Compensation.  All workers’ compensation hearings scheduled for March 16, 2020 through April 13, 2020 are postponed. 

    • The board will continue to handle PMTs, motions, conference calls and any emergency situation.

    • All in-person meditations for March 16-April 13, 2020 are suspended. These may be done by telephone. Call (404) 656-2939 for more information about mediations.

  • Georgia Department of Labor.

    • 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. Read more about how to file an appeal on the GDOL website.

    • The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is temporarily closing its career centers to the public beginning Wednesday, March 18. 

      • If you do not have access to the internet, you can file a claim by phone by contacting your local career center.
      • The GDOL is providing online access to unemployment services, partial claim access for employers, and resources for other reemployment assistance. 

  • Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). If you are required to regularly report to ICE, these check-ins are now being done by phone. If you are scheduled to appear in person at ICE for a check-in, instead call the Atlanta field office at 404-893-1248.

Georgia School Closings +

Help with Unemployment +

Contents


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.

 

What has changed about unemployment with the coronavirus crisis?

  • Important Updates to Unemployment Insurance Claims. As of April 6, 2020:

    • Employers are required to file claims on behalf of their full-time and part-time employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period.

      • If your employer DOES NOT file a claim for you, you should file for unemployment yourself.

    • The work search requirements are waived for all unemployment claims filed after March 15, 2020 for up to 120 days (sooner if the emergency is declared to be over).

    • You can now collect benefits for up to 39 weeks (this is extended from 14 weeks).

    • The first $300 of wages earned in a week will not count against eligible unemployment benefits paid. For example, if you are laid off and take a part-time job, you can now make up to $300 during the week and still receive your full unemployment amount.

    • If you get unemployment, from now until July 31, 2020, you will get an extra $600 each week on top of your usual benefit amount. You do not have to do anything to get this extra money.

      • This $600 does NOT count as income for Medicaid or CHIP.

    • Under the CARES Act, the federal government expanded unemployment benefits to many more people with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (read more about PUA below).

    • 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.

 

What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act?

How do I apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

According to the Georgia Department of Labor you cannot yet apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Check their website for the most up-to-date information.

 

Do I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

With the new CARES Act, the federal goverment expanded unemployment insurance to workers who cannot usually get unemployment. This includes:

  • people who are self-employed, 

  • independent contractors, 

  • people looking for part-time work, 

  • those who haven’t worked somewhere long enough to qualify for Unemployment Benefits, and 

  • people who cannot work for reasons related to Covid-19 (children at home, caring for someone sick, you are an entertainer and your workplace is closed, etc.)

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance does not apply to:

  • Workers who are not legally allowed to work in the U.S.,

  • Workers who are able to telework, or 

  • Workers who are getting paid sick days or paid leave. 

 

To get Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you must certify that you are either:

  • Partially or fully unemployed, or 

  • Are unable and unavailable to work because you:

    • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are seeking diagnosis;

    • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;

    • Are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19;

    • Are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to COVID-19;

    • Are quarantined or have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;

    • Were  scheduled to start employment and do not have a job or cannot reach their place of employment as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak;

    • Have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;

    • Had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19;

    • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or

    • You meet other criteria established by the Secretary of Labor.

  • This program runs from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. You can get a maximum of 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.

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 an adult without a child in your household and you were told you didn't qualify for food stamps, you should reapply for SNAP now. Because of COVID-19 the government has temporarily suspended the work requirements for adults without children. If you were told that you could not get food stamps because you were over the three month time limit, you may be able to get them now.

 

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

On March 23rd Governor Kemp announced that people who get SNAP will receive the maximum benefits allowed for their family size in March and April. For example if you are a single person and were previously eligible for $15 of benefits,you are now eligible for $194 for at least March and April.

 

Recertifications. If you are supposed to renew or recertify your SNAP benefits in March, April or May, this deadline has been extended by 6 months. You do not have to submit your renewal in March, April, or May even if you got a notification telling you that you needed to. You will get a new notice when your renewal is due again.


Medicaid. You can apply for Medicaid benefits: 

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

 

Recertifications. If you are supposed to renew or recertify your Medical Assistance (Medicaid or PeachCare) benefits in March or April, this deadline has been extended by 4 months. You do not have to submit your renewal in March or April even if you got a notification telling you that you needed to. You will get a new notice when your renewal is due again.

 

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


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)/ Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • The Social Security Administration announced that they will not be doing medical continuing disability reviews at this time. This means that during the Covid-19 crisis, Social Security will not be checking to see if you still have a disability. If you are currently getting SSI or SSDI, your benefits should continue through this crisis. 

  • The SSA also announced that it will be extending deadlines wherever possible on things like:

    • Providing medical documents or

    • Filing an appeal.

  • Hearings. If you had a Social Security hearing scheduled, those will continue by phone.

  • Apply for benefits or get help:

 

Help with Housing (Evictions, Foreclosures, Mortgages) +

Evictions. Some courts have stopped hearing eviction cases during the crisis. If you have been served with an eviction notice, contact the local court to see what their policy is at this time.

 

The new CARES Act passed by the federal government stops some landlords from filing evictions for the next 120 days (through July 25, 2020). This does not apply to eviction cases that were filed before March 27th. 

 

Landlords covered under this law:

 

  • Cannot file for eviction if you do not pay your rent during this time and 

  • Cannot charge you any fees for not paying your rent. 

 

But, you can still be evicted if you break your lease in another way.

 

 

Your landlord cannot file for eviction if:

 

  • You live in subsidized housing. This applies to federal housing programs, including:

    •  Public housing

    •  Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program 

    •  Section 8 project-based housing 

    •  Section 202 housing for the elderly

    •  Section 811 housing for people with disabilities 

    •  Section 236 multifamily rental housing 

    •  Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) housing 

    •  HOME 

    •  Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) 

    • McKinney-Vento Act homelessness programs (42 U.S.C. § 11360, et seq.)

    •  Section 515 Rural Rental Housing

    •  Sections 514 and 516 Farm Labor Housing

    •  Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants 

    •  Section 538 multifamily rental housing

    •  Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) 

 

  • You also cannot be evicted for not paying your rent if your landlord has a federally backed mortgage. It may be hard to know if your landlord has this type of loan. 

    • If your landlord does file an eviction case during this time, say in your answer that you believe your landlord has a federally backed mortgage, and ask the court to make them prove that they do not have a federally-backed mortgage.

    • If you are served with an eviction, contact a lawyer right away, especially if you believe that you are protected by this new law.

 


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?

Congress passed a law requiring that borrowers with federally-backed mortgages be given a forbearance for up to six months if they fell behind due to a Coronavirus-related hardship. And it’s possible to get the forbearance extended for another six months. 

 

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 for 60 days (through May 17th) 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, so after April 7, the next possible sale date is May 5. 

 

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 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.

Paid Leave for Covid-19 +

Contents


What does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act say about paid leave?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is a new federal law that requires some employers to give their employees paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. 

Back to top


Is my employer required to give me paid leave under the FFCRA?

Only certain employers have to give paid leave under the new law. Your employer must provide paid leave if you work for:

  • A private company with fewer than 500 employees. 

    • However, some small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may ask to be exempted from the expanded family and medical leave part of the law (the 10 week leave). 

  • A government agency. 

Back to top


How much leave can I get under the FFCRA?

If the FFCRA applies to your employer, they must give you:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at your regular salary or minimum wage (whichever is higher), up to $511/day if you cannot work because:

    • You have been officially quarantined by:

      • the Federal, state, or local government or 

      • by a healthcare provider, or

    • You have COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting on a medical diagnosis.

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at ⅔ of your regular salary or ⅔ of minimum wage (whichever is higher), up to $200/day if you cannot work because:

    • You are caring for someone who is officially quarantined by

      • the Federal, state, or local government or 

      • by a healthcare provider

    • You are caring for a child under 18 who is out of school or child care because of COVID-19, or

    • You are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at ⅔ of your regular salary up to $200/day if:

    • You have worked for the employer for at least 30 days AND

    • You cannot work because your child’s school or child care is closed because of COVID-19.

    • Be aware that if you work for an employer that has fewer than 50 employees, you may not be able to take this expanded leave. Ask your employer if they have opted out of the expanded family and medical leave part of the FFCRA.

 

If you have health insurance through your employer, the employer must maintain your health coverage through the paid 2 week leave and extended 10 week leave.

Back to top


When can I take this leave?

The law goes into effect starting April 1, 2020. If the law applies to you, you can begin taking your paid sick leave on that day. You can take this leave until December 31, 2020.

 

You do not have to use any other sick leave or vacation time that you have accrued before you can take the leave under the FFCRA.

Back to top


Can I take leave if I am not a full-time employee?

If your employer is covered under the FFCRA, they must give leave to all employees. This includes:

  • Full-time employees,

  • Part-time employees,

  • Temporary employees,

  • Day laborers from a temp agency.

 

Part time employees will get leave that is equal to their average work week. If you usually work 2 days a week, you will get 2 days of paid leave for each week you are eligible for leave.

 

Even if your employer is covered under the law, the law does not apply to:

  • Independent contractors, 

  • Employees who have been laid-off permanently or temporarily. 

    • If you have been laid-off, you should file for unemployment.

  • Certain essential employees, including:

    • Some health care workers, and 

    • Emergency responders

Back to top


What if my employer refuses to give me leave?

It is illegal for employers to take any negative action against you for trying to take leave under the FFCRA. If your employer will not give you leave or discriminates against you for taking leave, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

 

File a complaint:

  • Online, or

  • By phone at 1-866-487-9243 

Back to top


Where can I learn more?

Back to top

 

Help with Stimulus Payment +

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, or recieve Social Security or railroad retiree benefits 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 your federal tax return or benefit is directly 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:

    • Your payment will be mailed to you, or

    • You will be able to go online and give the IRS your bank information in the next few weeks. Visit the IRS website for up-to-date information.  

 

If you did not file a tax return in 2019 or 2018 and you do not get Social Security or railroad retiree benefits, you will have to file a tax return to get an economic impact payment. You have until December, 2020.

  • If you usually do not have to file a tax return, unless you get Social Security or railroad retiree benefits, you will still need to go to the IRS website and file a simple 2019 tax return.

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.

Avoid Scams +

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.

Tax Filing Deadline +

Both the federal government and the state of Georgia are allowing more time to file your taxes. The tax deadline has been moved from April 15th to July 15th.

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.

Covid-19 Videos +

View our short videos explaining the laws and your rights during Covid-19 here or on Youtube.

Last Review and Update: Apr 06, 2020