Does everyone have to fulfill work requirements?
No. Applicants who have a physical or mental disability or illness that prevents them from working are excused. A doctor’s statement is usually required. Also, people who are the only caretakers of a preschool age child or other dependent person in need of care will not be asked to fulfill the work requirements.
Do I have to be an Augusta resident to get assistance?
For the purposes of this program a “resident” means a person who is physically present in Augusta with the intention of remaining in Augusta to maintain or establish a home and who has no other residence.
How can I apply?
You can apply at the Health and Welfare Offices located at Augusta City Center, 16 Cony Street. Office hours are 8:00 am to 12:00 noon and 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm Monday through Friday. Closed for lunch 12:00 - 12:30. Our telephone number is (207) 626-2325.
How is General Assistance different from other programs?
The General Assistance Program is operated locally by your city. Assistance can be obtained within 24 hours or less by eligible applicants. Emergency needs can be addressed when they arise and individual consideration can be given to each situation. There are no extended waiting periods or residency requirements to qualify. It is the most accessible social service program in the state. In addition, your local GA office knows and cultivates other local and area resources that can be utilized to help people with their basic needs. For all of these reasons, General Assistance is often called the “Safety Net” Program.
How long can I continue to get help?
The period covered by your application and any assistance given under that application cannot exceed 30 days. However, there is no limitation on how many times a person can reapply and continue to be found eligible for assistance. The General Assistance program budgets your needs for 30 days forward from the date of your application.
How long does it take to apply?
Your first visit will require an interview during which a written application will be completed by you and the GA caseworker. It takes about 40 minutes.
How much assistance can I get?
The General Assistance Program is regulated by state law which has set an overall maximum amount of assistance that a household can receive. In addition each municipality’s GA guidelines contain maximum amounts of assistance allowable for each category of assistance including rent, food, electricity, etc. These amounts are based on fair market prices in the community. We cannot exceed those established maximums even though households’ expenses for various items may exceed those amounts. To be eligible, your income must fall below the overall maximum level of assistance for a household your size and your income must also be less than the amount you need to pay for basic necessities using city guidelines.
I have an emergency – my electricity was just shut off. Will the City pay CMP to reconnect my service?
General Assistance is intended to assist with current, ongoing expenses needed to maintain a household. It is not intended to pay old bills. An electrical service disconnection obviously involves old, back bills. In such cases, we have to determine if an emergency “beyond your control” exists under General Assistance regulations. You have to provide us with financial information on your household for the entire period back to the date your account started accumulating an unpaid balance. We have to determine whether you had the ability during that time period to pay for your electrical service or whether you clearly lacked the means to pay and could not have avoided this disconnection.
If we find you could have avoided the electrical service disconnection, General Assistance will not consider that a life threatening emergency beyond your control exists. Therefore, we would not help with the old portion of the bill but would furnish any assistance you might be eligible for during the current ongoing 30 days. Should our review show that you did not previously or presently have the means to prevent this emergency, General Assistance might be able to provide assistance to you in getting the service reconnected. As part of the process we would explore other financial resources and/or programs that might be available to assist you as well as consideration of alternative solutions as appropriate.
If I'm eligible will I get a check?
General Assistance does not furnish money directly to the eligible person or household. All assistance is issued in the form of City checks payable to the vendors who have provided your household with goods or services.
What am I required to do to stay eligible?
After your first application there are certain requirements to maintain eligibility which include:
- Always be truthful and prompt in reporting income, assets, expenses, household members, any changes, etc.
- Seek and use any other resources that would reduce your need for general assistance.
- Use your income for basic necessities and provide verification.
- * If able to work and unemployed or underemployed, you must register at the Maine Employment Career Center; actively look for work; accept any job offer paying at least minimum wage; participate in any training, education or rehabilitative program to which the GA staff refer you; and perform work for the City’s workfare program if so assigned.
- * Do not quit your job without good reason or get fired from your job for misconduct.
What do I need to bring with me to apply?
When you apply you will be asked to give the GA caseworker whatever information is necessary to determine your eligibility. You will be asked for your household income, expenses and the number of people in your household. You will be asked to show the GA caseworker proof of your income and your expenses including food, housing costs, heating fuel, electricity, water, sewer, medical expenses, work related expenses, etc. You will be asked to provide verification from a doctor if you are ill, disabled or unable to work. You will need to provide social security numbers, birth dates, driver’s license, etc. You should bring as much of this information with you as possible when you first apply.
What if I can't get to your office?
If you are physically unable to come to our office for medical or other valid reasons, we will make arrangements with you to process a phone application or conduct a home visit or perhaps arrange with you for your relative or another representative you authorize to apply for you.
What if I don't agree with the decision made?
If you are not satisfied you may request a Fair Hearing before the City’s Fair Hearing Officer. You must request the hearing in writing within 5 business days of receiving your decision from the city. We will schedule a Fair Hearing within 5 business days after we receive your request. You can present your views at the hearing and question witnesses. The Fair Hearing Officer will issue a written decision within 5 business days after the hearing. If you are still not satisfied, you have 30 days to appeal to Superior Court.
If you think the decision violated State GA law you may also call the Department of Human Services to complain at 1-800-442-6003 or locally (207) 624-4168. The Department of Human Services oversees the General Assistance Program in every municipality in the state and provides partial funding for the program statewide.
What if I have an emergency and you aren't open?
In a life or health threatening emergency after hours, we can be contacted through the Augusta Police Department – 626-2370.
What is General Assistance?
General Assistance is a program available in each municipality in Maine to help eligible people who do not have enough money for current basic needs such as rent/mortgage, food, heating fuel, non-elective medical needs and other goods or services essential to maintain themselves or their families.
When will I get help?
We will issue you a written decision as to your eligibility within 24 hours after you apply and we will promptly furnish any assistance for which you are determined eligible within our guidelines. However, please be aware that if you have not furnished sufficient information (including verification required) to enable us to determine your eligibility, we must consider your application incomplete and find you ineligible for any assistance until you reapply with adequate information. You can reapply at any time.
Who will know that I applied for General Assistance?
Your application and any case records pertaining to it are strictly confidential by law. You (the applicant), your attorney and certain government personnel may review your records. The general public cannot review your records unless you have given your express (written) permission.