Sexual assault can have serious effects on a survivor’s ability to become financially stable. The Money Matters project examines both the financial impact of sexual assault on survivors, and ways to support the economic empowerment of survivors. A key piece of economic empowerment is the knowledge of possible legal remedies that can support someone’s financial stability. This page highlights potential options for survivors seeking financial stability.
Housing is a crucial aspect of survivor safety. If you rent your apartment or live in federally assisted housing, there are options to maintain safety without losing your housing.
A survivor who rents their home has options to terminate their lease after experiencing abuse. To terminate a lease, a survivor only needs to provide written notice and documentation to their landlord under Maryland law. This documentation can be a copy of a protective order, a copy of a peace order, or a qualified-third party report.
If you have a peace order and want to terminate your lease, the act of abuse that allowed you to obtain the peace order is limited to certain acts. These acts of abuse are an act that causes serious bodily harm; an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; assault in any degree, false imprisonment, stalking, or revenge porn.
Finally, another form of documentation that can be used to terminate your lease is a qualified third party report. This is a report that says you are a victim of abuse, and contains other information, discussed below. Under the law, only certain people can prepare this document for you. A qualified third party report can only be prepared by a qualified third party. Under Maryland law, qualified third parties include physicians, psychologists, social workers or case workers from a public or private health or social services agency or provider, or advocates from domestic violence or sexual assault prevention or assistance programs.
A qualified third party report is prepared by a qualified third party who, while acting in their professional capacity, received information from you about the abuse that you experienced. The report must include certain information to be a valid report.
The report must be signed by the tenant or legal occupant of the residence and notarized. The report must include the following information:
Written notice and documentation must be provided by hand delivery or first class mail to the landlord. Once notice is provided, you have 30 days to vacate the residence. You are only responsible for rent from the time they provide notice until they vacate the residence. You can also vacate the residence before 30 days, as long as written notice is provided, signed and notarized by the tenant, and delivered to the landlord by either hand delivery or first class mail.
Sometimes, survivors face eviction after being abused, with a landlord claiming the act of abuse is a breach of the lease and therefore, the reason for eviction. If this occurs, you can fight the eviction by providing a copy of a protective order, peace order with certain acts of abuse as the reason for the order being granted, or a qualified third party report.
A survivor may not want to leave their residence, but still has safety concerns. You can submit a written request to change locks with a copy of a protective order or peace order to your landlord. Once the landlord receives the written request, the locks must be changed by close of business on the next business day. A landlord is allowed to charge a reasonable fee that covers the cost of changing locks. If the landlord fails to change your locks, you can call a locksmith to change the locks, and you must provide a copy of the new key to the landlord.
Federally assisted housing refers to housing programs available to individuals with low or moderate income who pay reduced rent. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), 34 U.S.C §12491, survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking in federally assisted housing are entitled to certain housing protections. The housing protections under VAWA apply to federally assisted housing programs, including:
A housing program can be owned or operated by a public housing authority, or a landlord who receives money from the government or a public housing authority.
A survivor in federally assisted housing cannot be evicted or have their assistance terminated because they are a survivor. You can still be evicted if a landlord or public housing authority can demonstrate an actual and imminent threat to other tenants or employees. Per guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 24 C.F.R §5.2005(d)(4), eviction is a last resort and should only occur when there are no other actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate the threat.
If the perpetrator lives in the same unit as the survivor, the survivor has the right to request their housing be bifurcated. Bifurcation is a process of splitting the lease to evict the perpetrator while allowing the survivor to reside in the unit. If the perpetrator is the sole tenant eligible for housing assistance, the landlord or housing authority must give the survivor time to either establish eligibility for housing assistance on their own or find new housing.
A survivor can also request an emergency transfer to another unit. In order to do so, the survivor must reasonably believe they are threatened with imminent harm from further violence if they remain in the unit, or a sexual assault must have occurred on the premises in the last 90 days.
A landlord or public housing authority can ask for documentation from the survivor to show abuse. The request for documentation must be in writing, and the survivor has 14 days from receiving the request to provide documentation. The survivor gets to choose what kind of documentation is provided.
Documentation can be:
§8-5a-02 Termination of Residential Lease by Victims of Abuse
§8-5a-03 Notice of Intent to Vacate Premises as Abuse Victim
§8-5a-04 Actions For Possession of Property Against Victims of Abuse
§8-5a-05 Request to Change Locks of Premises
§8-5a-06 Disclosure of Information
§12491 Housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
§12492 Compliance reviews.
§12493 Department of Housing and Urban Development Gender-based Violence Prevention Office and Violence Against Women Act Director.
§12494 Prohibition on retaliation.
§12495 Right to report crime and emergencies from one's home.
§12496 Training and technical assistance grants.
§5.2005 VAWA Protections.
§5.2007 Documenting the occurrence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
§5.2009 Remedies available to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
§5.2011 Effect on other laws.
Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) is the name for Maryland’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. This program provides cash assistance to families with dependent children while also preparing participants for financial independence through work.
To qualify for TCA, you must meet the following criteria:
You also have to comply with certain employment and education requirements to collect TCA, unless you are taking care of a child under 12 months. Generally, there is a limit on how much TCA you can collect. You can only collect a total of 60 months worth of benefits, but you can go on and off collecting as needed until you have used all 60 months. You also cannot collect child support and TCA at the same time. The State is able to collect child support from the other parents while you receive TCA. There is an exception to these requirements under the Family Violence Option.
Maryland has adopted the Family Violence Option, which requires screening for domestic violence in order to refer survivors to counseling and other support services. This Option also allows waivers for good cause for some program requirements. If you are a victim of domestic or family violence and receiving counseling, you may be able to waive the 60 month lifetime limit on collecting TCA. Additionally, a good cause waiver can also waive the requirement of the State to collect child support.
There are two kinds of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI are both cash benefits paid monthly for people with disabilities. However, both SSDI and SSI have different eligibility requirements. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a prior working history with a job covered by social security, meaning that you paid into Social Security from taxes in your paycheck. You would not qualify if you worked a job “under the table.” On the other hand, in order to qualify for SSI, you do not necessarily need a working history, and only have to show you have limited income.
SSDI is a cash benefit paid to you monthly for a disability. Besides working a job that is covered by social security, your disability must also meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. To meet this definition of disabled, you must:
If you are approved for SSDI, your benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. The Social Security Administration is required to help you fill out an application if you ask for assistance. You can file an application online, in person at your local Social Security Administration office, or by phone, 1-800-772-1213.
Click here to find your local office.
You are allowed to have an attorney help you.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays cash benefits to help adults 65 or older, disabled adults, or disabled children with limited income or assets to help meet their basic needs. If you are a student under 22 years old who regularly attends school, college, or a vocational or technical training program, you can still collect SSI while earning a limited income. The more income you have, the less your benefit will be. The Social Security Administration evaluates disability differently for children and adults. A spouse is entitled to their ex-spouse’s SSI benefits upon retirement as long as the spouses were married for at least 10 years, which would be collected at 65 years old.
Formerly known as food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) is a program run through the Department of Social Services that pays benefits to help pay for groceries. The benefit amount depends on the size of your household and the government’s estimate of how much it costs to buy food.
To be eligible, you must meet income requirements, provide Social Security numbers for every household member, and any able-bodied adults aged 16-60 years must register for work, accept a suitable offer of work, and take part in employment and training programs when referred by the Department of Social Services.
Students can qualify for SNAP if they are between ages 18-49 years old and:
If your SNAP benefits are stolen, you can file a claim for reimbursement. You qualify to file for reimbursement for stolen benefits as far back as January 1, 2021. There are timelines to file based on when your benefit was stolen. Claims can be submitted by filing in person at your local Department of Social Services office or filing online.
There are three health insurance programs in Maryland for low income individuals: Medicaid, Medicare, and Maryland Children’s Health Program.
Medicaid is a free or low-cost health insurance for those that cannot afford health insurance. To qualify, you must meet income and asset levels. If you receive Supplemental Security Income, you are automatically eligible for Medicaid. If you receive Temporary Cash Assistance, you can potentially qualify for Medicaid.
You can apply in person at the local Department of Social Services, or by mail.
Click here to find your local office.
Medicare is health insurance for people 65 or older and young people with disabilities. This program helps with health care costs but does not cover all medical expenses or long term care costs. Medicare is a large program that has different parts for hospital insurance and medical insurance.
If you are 65 years old or older and receive Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in hospital insurance. There is an enrollment period during which you must enroll for Medicare, otherwise, a life long late enrollment penalty will be added to all insurance premiums.
Also referred to as CHIP, this program provides free or low-cost health insurance benefits to children. The program provides health insurance up to age 19.
You must meet income levels to qualify. You can potentially qualify if your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but still below income limits. The adult that lives with a child would apply. If parents do not live with a child, an adult that resides with the child can apply. That adult’s income would not be counted toward that child’s eligibility for income limits unless that adult adopted the child.
Generally, undocumented children are only eligible for emergency Medicaid services only. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties offer CHIP to undocumented children with certain conditions. Monthly premiums are $67 to $71, depending on your income.
In general, if you are undocumented, you are not eligible to receive public benefits.
Low income, undocumented pregnant, breastfeeding women, postpartum non-breastfeeding women, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk qualify for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This is a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program that provides supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutrition education. You can apply at your county WIC office. Click here to find your local WIC office.
You may be eligible for emergency services only under Medicaid or Maryland Children’s Health Program if you are undocumented. Additionally, in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, you may be able to receive health care services if you meet certain income limits.
You may qualify for some benefits if you have certain visas or legal status in the United States. Speak with an attorney to discuss your options.
If your benefits are denied, you can appeal that denial. The time you have to appeal depends on the benefit. An attorney may be able to help. Speak with an attorney for help assessing your options.
§260.50 What is the purpose of this subpart?
§260.51 What definitions apply to this subpart?
§260.52 What are the basic provisions of the Family Violence Option (FVO)?
§260.54 Do States have flexibility to grant good cause domestic violence waivers?
§260.55 What are the additional requirements for Federal recognition of good cause domestic violence waivers?
§260.58 What penalty relief is available to a State whose failure to meet the work participation rates is attributable to providing federally recognized good cause domestic violence waivers?
§260.59 What penalty relief is available to a State that failed to comply with the five-year limit on Federal assistance because it provided federally recognized good cause domestic violence waivers?
§404.330 Who is entitled to wife’s or husband’s benefits.
§404.331 Who is entitled to wife’s or husband’s benefits as a divorced spouse.
§404.332 When wife’s and husband’s benefits begin and end.
§404.333 Wife’s and husband’s benefit amounts.
§404.335 How do I become entitled to widow’s or widower’s benefits?
§404.336 How do I become entitled to widow’s or widower’s benefits as a surviving divorced spouse?
§404.337 When does my entitlement to widow’s and widower’s benefits start and end?
§404.338 Widow’s and widower’s benefits amounts.
§404.339 How do I become entitled to mother’s or father’s benefits as a surviving spouse?
§404.340 How do I become entitled to mother’s or father’s benefits as a surviving divorced spouse?
§404.341 When mother’s and father’s benefits begin and end.
§404.342 Mother’s and father’s benefit amounts.
§404.344 Your relationship by marriage to the insured.
§404.345 Your relationship as wife, husband, widow, or widower under State law.
§404.346 Your relationship as wife, husband, widow, or widower based upon a deemed valid marriage.
§404.347 “Living in the same household” defined.
§404.348 When is a child living with me in my care?
§404.349 When is a child living apart from me in my care?
§416.201 General definitions and terms used in this subpart.
§416.202 Who may get SSI benefits.
§416.203 Initial determinations of SSI eligibility.
§416.204 Redeterminations of SSI eligibility.
§416.207 You do not give us permission to contact financial institutions.
§416.210 You do not apply for other benefits.
§416.211 You are a resident of a public institution.
§416.212 Continuation of full benefits in certain cases of medical confinement.
§416.214 You are disabled and drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability.
§416.215 You leave the United States.
§416.216 You are a child of armed forces personnel living overseas.
§416.221 Who is a qualified individual.
§416.222 Who is an essential person.
§416.223 What happens if you are a qualified individual.
§416.250 Experimental, pilot, and demonstration projects in the SSI program.
§416.1131 The one-third reduction rule.
§416.1132 What we mean by “living in another person’s household.”
§416.1133 What is a pro rata share of household operating expenses.
§416.1140 The presumed value rule.
§416.1141 When the presumed value rule applies.
§416.1142 If you live in a public assistance household.
§416.1143 If you live in a noninstitutional care situation.
§416.1144 If you live in a nonprofit retirement home or similar institution.
§416.1145 How the presumed value rule applies in a nonmedical for-profit institution.
§5-501 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
§5-501.1 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Matching Funds.
§5-502 Conflicts with Federal Law.
§5-503 Legal Immigrants.
§5-504 Prohibited Acts.
§5-505 Restaurant Meals Program Within the. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
§5-506 Heat and Eat Program.