Anyone has a right to apply for General Assistance (GA). GA is a program run by every town in Maine to help people who don’t have enough money to pay their necessary expenses. GA may be available because of the Covid-19 emergency, even though an applicant is not usually eligible, and towns are required to allow individuals to apply during emergencies, even if the town office is closed.

Those in need should apply at the town office, city hall, or other municipal office where they live. If the office is closed there must be a notice of who to contact to get assistance in an emergency. In an emergency applications can be made over the phone.

The municipality must provide a written decision within 24 hours of applying. The decision will say how much assistance will be provided. If the municipality refuses to help, the decision must say why. If a written decision is not provided within 24 hours, the applicant should call the town office to ask for it.

If someone is denied GA, they have 5 days to appeal the denial. They should make sure to appeal within 5 days. For help with a General Assistance problem, they can call Pine Tree Legal Assistance or Maine Equal Justice, but they should make sure to appeal within 5 days.

Applicants who are told they can’t apply, or who are not given a decision within 24 hours, should call the state Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-442-6003 (TTY: 1-800-606-0215) or contact Pine Tree Legal, or Maine Equal Justice. The Department of Health and Human Services supervises how towns run their General Assistance programs, and they may get involved to make the towns pay the General Assistance.

To protect clients and staff, all Pine Tree Legal Assistance offices are closed to the public at this time. For current cases, please reach out by e-mail or phone. For legal help, visit the Contact Us page for information about up-to-date call in hours.

For those having trouble getting other kinds of assistance, such as SNAP, MaineCare, or TANF, call Maine Equal Justice at 626-7058, ext 205 or leave a message

People do not need to go to any DHHS, FedCap or GA appointments at this time. Their benefits will not be penalized in any way. 

Need more help? 211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that connects people of all ages across Maine to local services. 211 Maine is based in Maine and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Specialists are trained and friendly; they know we all need help sometimes. Contact 211 Maine. You can just dial 211, or text your zip code to 898-211.