|Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended
The deadline to apply for the state’s 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is being extended from June 30 to Dec. 31.
Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2016. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. Complete eligibility information is available here.
Residents are reminded that they need not pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at my office at no cost.
Checks will begin to be mailed on July 3. Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online at revenue.pa.gov or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES.
Protecting Senior Eligibility for Prescription Coverage
About 12,000 senior citizens currently enrolled in the state’s prescription drug assistance programs would be able to keep their coverage thanks to legislation that passed the House recently.
House Bill 425 would prevent seniors from losing their eligibility for PACE and PACENET programs due to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by extending the COLA moratorium until Dec. 31, 2019. Without this legislation, a small Social Security COLA can make a senior ineligible for benefits.
The state’s PACE and PACENET programs provide prescription drug assistance to about 300,000 Pennsylvania seniors. A 2015 state law allowed seniors previously eligible to not lose their PACE and PACENET benefits due to a Social Security COLA. However, this law sunsets in December.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
CHIP Extension to Help More PA Kids
To help ensure children can access health care coverage, the House recently passed legislation to continue the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire on Dec. 31.
CHIP provides insurance coverage to uninsured children and teens (up to age 19) whose families earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, but who cannot afford to purchase private insurance. CHIP is supported by both state and federal funds and provides payment for health care coverage for eligible children who meet income and other criteria.
House Bill 1388 received unanimous support in the House and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
More than 174,000 children are currently enrolled in CHIP. Information about the program is available at CHIPCoversPAKids.com.
Pay Turnpike Fines During Amnesty; Avoid Fees, Suspension
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is offering a partial amnesty program to enable Pennsylvania motorists to pay all unpaid turnpike tolls, violations or invoices before a new law takes effect that would suspend vehicle registrations for such violations.
Act 165 of 2016 allows the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to request the PA Department of Transportation to suspend the vehicle registration of any Pennsylvania motorist who has six or more unpaid turnpike violations, and/or unpaid invoices totaling $500 or more.
Enforcement of the new suspension rule would take effect on Aug. 4. Until then, toll violations that have not been placed with a collection agency may be settled by paying in full all tolls for any violations or invoices, and all administrative fees will be waived.
For more information, visit PATurnpike.com/violationenforcement.
Adult Adoptees Can Now Request Birth Certificates
To help connect adult adoptees with their original birth information, they can now apply for that record from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Act 127 of 2016 allows adult adoptees, those over the age of 18, to access their original birth information.
Currently, the department is offering an early acceptance period, and applications will not be processed until after Nov. 3. Submitting during this early acceptance period will allow applicants to receive a noncertified copy of the original birth record by Dec. 18. Submitting an application after Nov. 3 will require 45 days for processing.
The application for an original birth certificate is available here.
This law will help make it easier for adoptees to prove one’s identity, especially if obtaining other forms of identification, such as a passport.