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Georgia Covid-19 Resource List

Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. LSC Funded
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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 Friday, July 14, 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.

 

Find Tutorials for Requesting Payment on the GDOL website.

 

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?

There are multiple steps to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Application:

 

Step 1: Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance using the regular Unemployment Insurance application. 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.

  • Once you file, you will get two emails: one that says your claim was received and another saying that your claim was processed.

 

Step 2: After you complete the application and it is processed, you will get a Benefits Determination letter. You will also get a Claims Examiner’s Determination letter saying whether your application was approved or denied.

 

Step 3: If your state benefits are denied, you will get an email link with the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application or will find a link to the PUA application in your My UI portal.

  • This application will ask for information about your past wages and earnings to see if you qualify for PUA and what your weekly benefit amount will be.

 

Step 4: You must complete the application and submit. The GDOL will work to verify your earnings with the Department of Revenue. If they cannot, you will need to provide proof of income from 2019. The Georgia Department of Labor will accept the following types of documents:

  • If you are an employee or 1099 independent contractor, you can send copies of pay stubs, earning statements, IRS Form W-2 or IRS Form 1099 and federal income tax Form 1040 and Schedule C, F, or SE.

  • If you are self-employed, you can send IRS Form 1040 and a copy of Schedule 1, 2, C, F or SE tax return.

 

Step 5: Once your earnings are verified, your weekly benefit amount will be decided.  You will get a PUA Benefits Determination letter in the mail stating the weekly benefit amount. You will also receive a PUA Claims Examiner’s Determination letter informing the claimant if benefits are approved or denied.

 

If you have already filed an Unemployment Claim with the Georgia Department of Labor, you do not have to refile a claim. The GDOL says that it will send you an email with a link to provide the additional information needed to qualify for PUA.

 

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 March 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. You can get a maximum of 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.

  • These benefits will be retroactive to March 27, 2020.

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.

 

NoRent.org has a free tool to help tenants who cannot pay rent because of COVID-19 write a letter to their landlord.


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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 

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Where can I learn more?

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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, 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 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22nd before noon Eastern time.

 

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 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22nd before noon Eastern time.

 

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.

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.

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

Contents


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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Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Health Insurance +

 

  • If you or anyone in your household has recently lost their health insurance, you may be able to get Marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Even though the 2020 Open Enrollment Period is over, losing your health insurance may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.
  • But, you must act fast if you want to enroll. You only have 60 days after you’ve lost coverage to apply. 
  • Go to healthcare.gov to find out if you qualify for coverage.

Covid-19 Videos +

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

 

Food Stamp Changes in Georgia During Covid-19

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Evictions Stopped Under New CARES Act

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Filing for Unemployment During the Covid-19 Crisis

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Illegal Evictions

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Covid-19 Georgia Court Closures

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How the CARES Act Expands Unemployment During Covid-19

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Paid Leave During Covid-19

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How to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

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Who Qualifies for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

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What happens to my child's IEP during the Covid-19 crisis?

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Domestic Violence Help

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How to Get Your Stimulus Money from the CARES Act

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Applying fro Medicaid During the Covid-19 Crisis

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Parenting Time and Custody Orders During Covid-19

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Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Coverage

View transcript

 

Extended Stay Evictions

View transcript

Last Review and Update: Apr 15, 2020