General Assistance

The Department of Human Services General Assistance program is state- funded and serves certain individuals who do not qualify for the federally- funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit, also known as TANF. These individuals must also meet specific criteria for General Assistance, for example, having a medically verified permanent or temporary disability.

You can apply for and renew your benefits from the comfort of your home using COMPASS, the online resource for cash assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), help with child care, health care coverage, school meals and women's health, and long-term living services. You can also:
• File an application at your local county assistance office or
• Download an application form from the web (English version, version Española) and return it to your local county assistance office:
        - Application for cash assistance, SNAP and Medical Assistance Benefits (English version)
        - Solicitud para recibir beneficios (Version Española)
If you need help completing the application form or need more information about benefits, trained workers at your county assistance office can help you. You will be scheduled for a face-to-face interview and your caseworker will tell you what items you need to verify. DHS will make a decision on your application within 30 days.

Are You Eligible?
For the county assistance office to consider you for GA benefits, you cannot be eligible for TANF benefits and you must be one of the following:
• A child under age 18; or
• A child, age 18 through 20, attending secondary school or a secondary-level vocational or technical school and expected to graduate before age 21; or
• Parents in a two-parent household with their child who is under age 13; or
• Parents in a two-parent household with their child who has a disability and is under age 21; or
• An adult with a physical or mental disability that is temporary or permanent and prevents you from working in any gainful employment; or
• A person undergoing active treatment in an approved drug or alcohol program if the treatment program precludes any form of employment (You have a nine-month limit during your lifetime to receive GA benefits for this reason); or
• A victim of domestic violence or another abusive living situation. (You have a nine-month limit during your lifetime to receive GA benefits for this reason); or
• A pregnant woman (not eligible for TANF); or
• An adult other than a relative who is caring for a child under age 13; or
• An adult who is caring for another person in the household who is ill or disabled, if no other adult in the household is capable of providing the care (NOTE: The county assistance office first must review the household for TANF eligibility).

General Assistance Frequently Asked Questions

Other available resources

Along with the potential to receive medical and/or other benefits, here are other available resources:

  • The Homeless Assistance Program: This program provides case management, rental assistance, bridge housing, emergency shelters and innovative supportive housing services to prevent homelessness and help individuals experiencing homelessness find refuge and care. Learn more about the Homeless Assistance Program. 
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: This program helps eligible low-income families pay their heating bills by sending cash grants directly to the utility company. The LIHEAP hotline phone number is 1-866-857-7095.
  • The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence: PCADV provides domestic violence victims with crisis intervention, counseling, accompaniment to police, medical, and court facilities, and temporary emergency shelter for victims and their dependent children.
  • The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation: OVR serves people experiencing disabilities that present a substantial impediment to their employment. Services are provided to individuals who need assistance to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain employment. Call OVR Central Office at 717-787-5244.
  • The United States Social Security Administration: SSA provides Supplemental Security Income to people who have low income, few resources, and are permanently disabled. Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.