Health and Public Benefits

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing rapidly. Learn how COVID-19 is affecting legal and government organizations and the new benefits and protections available. 

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This page was last updated on 9.10.21.

Quick Links

 

Ohio's COVID-19 response

 

The COVID-19 situation and response is changing every day. To be sure that you're getting the most accurate and up-to-date information on safety measures, case statistics and vaccination in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. For up-to-date medical information, visit the CDC's website. 

Rental, mortgage and utility assistance

Ohio has allocated funding to Community Action Agencies to provide rent, mortgage and water and/or sewer assistance to Ohioans in need in all 88 counties. This assistance can help Ohioans pay outstanding balances back to April 1, 2020. Ohio households behind on their bills with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for assistance. You can apply for assistance now through your local community action agency.

Ohio's Mental Health CareLine

The pandemic has caused many of us to feel great stress, whether due to financial, health or social concerns. To help address this crisis, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) announced the launch of a new mental health COVID CareLine for Ohioans.

Trained staff will be available to provide emotional assistance to anyone struggling with mental health concerns due to the ongoing stress of the pandemic.

To reach the CareLine, call 1-800-720-9616. All calls will be confidential.

Current Federal Protections and Programs

The President, Congress and several federal agencies have taken action and the following protections and programs have been established or extended:

Ohio's legal system

 

Legal aid

Ohio's legal aids are continuing to provide services to help low-income individuals with their legal needs. However, to reduce spread of COVID-19, your local legal aid may be suspending or discouraging in-person intake at this time. If you need legal aid services, please apply online or over the phone. 

Courts

Currently, there is not a single policy for court operations in Ohio. If you have a hearing scheduled or have other business with a court, check their website or call to see if their hours or schedules have changed. You can find contact and website information for your local courts on this page, under "Local Government and Community Resources."

Your job and money

 

Taxes

The American Rescue Plan Act temporarily increases the Child Tax Credit for 2021. Half of this credit will be paid in advance, through monthly payments starting in July 2021. To receive the advance payments, you must file your 2020 taxes or use the IRS non-filer tool.

Learn more about the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Stimulus checks

To help families impacted by COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides direct cash payments to Ohioans. The amount of the payment depends on your income and will be distributed based on the information from your 2019 and 2020 taxes. Most people don't have to do anything to get their payment, but there are some exceptions. On March 11, 2021, a law was signed to provide a third round of stimulus checks. Read more to learn how much you might receive and if you need to take action to get your full stimulus checks.

Most individuals and families should receive a stimulus payment, even if you owe back taxes or other debts to the government. If you owe back child support, the CARES Act allowed a reduction or offset to your first stimulus payment for back child support. However, your second and third round stimulus payment can't be garnished for back child support. Stimulus checks are also protected under Ohio law from being garnished. Learn more about how to fight bank garnishment or attachment.

Unemployment benefits

Expanded unemployment benefits ended on September 4, 2021. 

Read more to understand if you qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, learn how to apply, what to do if you don't feel safe going back to work and how to take advantage of the 2020 tax filing changes for unemployment income.   

SNAP

Federal law signed on March 11, 2021 increased SNAP benefits by 15% for January 2021 - September 2021.  

Paid leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires most employers with fewer than 500 employees to give paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to employees impacted by COVID-19. The requirement that paid leave be offered through FFCRA will end on December 31, 2020, but employers may still offer paid leave. Check with your employer to see if they will continue to offer paid leave in 2021. 

Read more to understand if paid sick leave might be available in your situation. 

Student loans

The CARES Act provides the following automatic relief for student loan borrowers with certain Federal Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL): 

  • Suspends loan payments from March 13, 2020 through January 31, 2022; 
  • Stops interest from accruing through March 13, 2020 through January 31, 2022;
  • Counts the months in suspension toward loan forgiveness. For example, for borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) will treat each month as if you had made the payment;
  • Stops all involuntary collection of defaulted loans, including wage garnishment; and,
  • Counts the months in suspension as on-time payments for credit reporting.     

This relief only applies to Direct Loans and FFEL loans currently held by the Department of Education. The relief does not apply to commercially-held FFEL loans, Perkins loans, and private student loans.  

The relief is automatic so you do not need to apply for the relief. In addition, the relief from payment and interest is retroactive to March 13, 2020. If you made a loan payment after March 13, 2020 and would like it refunded, you should contact your loan servicer. To learn more about COVID-19 relief, see the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Project and StudentAid.gov. 

If you have a loan that is not covered by the CARES Act, like a private student loan and can't make your payment, you should contact your student loan servicer to see what options may be available to you. Many servicers are working with borrowers during the COVID-19 emergency.   

Learn more about repaying student loans here.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a new program to help struggling families afford internet during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides a direct discount of up to $50/month through participating internet providers. Read more to learn who qualifies and how to get discounted internet service.

Other public benefits

Find information here on additional food and cash benefits that are available in Ohio. Resources include SNAP, food banks and other food programs, Ohio Works First and WIC.

Small business help

On April 7, 2020, the State of Ohio announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief to provide support to Ohio's small business community during COVID-19. You can find resources for your small business at businesshelp.ohio.gov.   

Your housing

 

Rental, mortgage and utility assistance

Ohio has allocated funding to Community Action Agencies to provide rent, mortgage and water and/or sewer assistance to Ohioans in need in all 88 counties. This assistance can help Ohioans pay outstanding balances back to April 1, 2020. Ohio households behind on their bills with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for assistance. You can apply for assistance now through your local community action agency.

Evictions

The U.S. Supreme Court ended the CDC Eviction Moratorium on Thursday, August 27.

Foreclosures

The foreclosure moratorium for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae has ended. This means that foreclosure proceedings can now start, but you cannot be removed from your home through September 30, 2021.

If you can't pay your mortgage, you should contact your loan servicer immediately to request help. Be prepared to wait on the line for assistance as a lot of homeowners are seeking help right now.   

Read more about how to avoid foreclosure in Ohio.

Lock outs

A landlord is not allowed to change your locks or shut off your utilities to force you out. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are in your rent. It doesn't matter what kind of fight you’re having with your landlord. In Ohio, it is illegal for a landlord to change your locks or shut off your utilities as a way of forcing you to leave. It’s against the law for them to even threaten to do these things. Instead, if your landlord wants you out, they must follow the eviction timeline and process of the court.

Read more about what to do if your landlord locks you out of your home.     

Utilities

Most utility shut-off moratoriums in Ohio have ended, but you may be able to avoid having your utilities shut off if you communicate with your provider. If you can't pay your utility bill, reach out to your provider to ask for a payment plan.

If you need help paying to heat your home, you may be eligible for HEAP benefits. Contact your local Community Action Agency for help applying for HEAP.

Your consumer rights

 

Scams

Scammers take advantage of emergencies to prey on people's fears. With COVID-19, scammers will try to take advantage of people to trick them out of money and personal information. Stay vigilant and report any suspected scams to the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission. COVID-19 scams include:

Thank you

 

Thank you to all the health care professionals, first responders, farmers, farm workers, mail carriers, grocery store employees, pharmacists, factory workers, delivery drivers, transit workers and civil service employees who are working to keep us safe, healthy and informed during COVID-19. 

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