Child Tax Credit
It's not too late for families to obtain the full advance child tax credit this year. The total child tax credit amount is $3,000 per older child and $3,600 per younger child. The advance portion of the credit is half of that, with the balance paid in a tax refund next year. There is an October 15, 2021 deadline for using the IRS non-filer portal to sign up for the advance payments. The non-filer portal and IRS guidance about the ACTC is here: IRS ACTC Portals and Information Page. Check out Legal Aid's flyer here for more info: Legal Aid ACTC Flyer
COVID-19 Vaccines & Tests
Vaccines: All Marylanders 16 and older can directly schedule an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine at one of Maryland's mass vaccination sites. Marylanders can immediately book an appointment by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). The support center is available seven days a week, from 7AM-10PM.
The Baltimore City Health Department offers free vaccinations to residents 6 months and older and boosters for anyone 5 or older. Vaccination can be done at Walk-Up clinics which you can find the schedule at the Baltimore City Coronavirus website or you can register at https://covax.baltimorecity.gov/en-US/cvq/.
Beware of scammers: To report a scammer contact MIA at 800-492-6116
Some individuals are claiming to have COVID vaccine shots available for payment. The MD Insurance Administration wants to remind all of us that you cannot be charged for the COVID-19 vaccine or vaccinations. Providers can seek reimbursement from your insurance company, but there are no co-pays or cost sharing.
Order At-Home Tests: Every home in the U.S. is eligible for a 3rd round of free at-home covid tests at covid.gov/tests and each order comes with 8 rapid antigen tests. At-home tests should be taken if you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or 5 days after contact with someone who tested positive, or when you’re going to gather with a group of people.
Insurance Reimbursements At-Home Tests: If you have health insurance through an employer or Marketplace, your insurance will pay you back for 8 at-home tests each month for each person on your plan.
Free Testing Sites: Low or no-cost testing is available at select pharmacies and local health centers:
Find a Health Center near you in Baltimore: https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/
Testing is also offered at: CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart
Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program
The State of Maryland has developed a program which sets a limit on the amount of property taxes any homeowner must pay based upon their income. The deadline to apply is October 1, 2022. To learn more about the program, check out the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation website. You can also apply online.
COVID-19 Workers' Rights
Questions about workers’ rights and COVID? The Public Justice Center has a great FAQ page and great explainers to help you understand your rights: http://www.publicjustice.org/en/legal_help/workers-rights-and-covid-19/
Are you or someone you know in the hospitality industry and looking for resources? Check out the website of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund.
The city website, https://coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/, has a wealth of information and resources available, including how COVID-19 is impacting city services. A few examples of what you can find:
- Information for older adults and caregivers.
- Food resources for youth, older adults, and food-insecure residents
Additional Utilities Resources
Rental and utility bill payment assistance - If COVID-19 has affected your ability to pay rent or utilities you may be eligible for assistance with current or past due payments. There may be help available through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Visit the website to find local agencies administering this program or call the Maryland Emergency Rental Assistance Call Center at 877-546-5595, Mon-Fri, 8AM-7PM/Sat, 9AM-4PM.
Fuel Fund - For those who need help with their energy bills and have already used OHEP or are over income for OHEP, Fuel Fund may be another option. The Fuel Fund of Maryland assists income eligible BGE customers with paying their utility bills after they complete OHEP (the person has received receipt of grants or has been denied for over income). They have recently instituted some new rules that impact process and eligibility to effectively respond to the pandemic. Visit the following pages for more info in English and Spanish. OHEP will accept applications from all U.S. citizens, qualified aliens, and ineligible non-citizens. In order to process an OHEP application for benefits, there must be at least one person who is an eligible household member. This link leads to OHEP's publicly available Operations Manual. You can find their "Alien Eligibility" Policy on page 85. You can also find more information from the OPC FY22 Community Resource Guide BGE Territory, or on their website.
Washington Gas contact issues: Many Washington Gas customers are experiencing difficulties getting in touch with their utility right now. If you are not having success connecting with Washington Gas due to long wait times or no response, you may consider filing a complaint with the Public Service Commission Community Affairs Division or contacting the Office of People’s Counsel for help.
To file a complaint with the Public Service Commission Community Affairs Division:
1) File a complaint online at www.psc.state.md.us
2) Download a complaint form at www.psc.state.md.us and mail it to Maryland Public Service Commission Community Affairs Division (6 St. Paul Street, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202) with any supporting documents. This complaint form has also been attached to this email.
Food Stamps/SNAP: Effective October 1, 2021, individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) will see a change in their benefit amounts. The changes include a cost-of living adjustment and a discontinuation of the Federal Emergency Allotment. If you have an active SNAP case, you will receive a notice further explaining the changes. The notice will be sent to you before October 1, 2021. Allotment amounts will vary on the household's specific circumstances. If you have any questions, please call 1-800-332-6347 or visit the DHS website.
Lifeline - Lifeline is a federal program that provides discounts for limited income consumers on their telephone and internet services. In Maryland the program is called Tel‐Life. You are eligible for Lifeline if you or your dependent meet one of the below criteria:
- Earn 135% or less of the federal poverty limit
- Participate in one of these programs: Food Supplemental Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension, or certain Tribal Programs
For more information check out OPC’s Lifeline guide.
Emergency Broadband Benefit - The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more. As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.