Friday, January 11, 2008

a day in the life as a client in TIERS

Client needs Food Stamps for her family.  She has lost a job.  File application in local office on 11/16/07.  They are not expedited, so they are not eligible for same day service.
Local office faxes the application to TAA on 11/16/07.
Client calls 2-1-1 to see if an appointment has been set on 11/30/07 because her last check has come and gone and now client has NO income.
Client calls back to 2-1-1 on 12/3/07 to check and see if an appointment has been set yet- and is told that they have an appointment by phone on 1/9/08 at 4 p.m.
Client calls back to 2-1-1 two days later to see if there is any way client can be seen earlier- but there are no slots available, so the answer is no.  However, TAA tells client that if she wants expedited she can go to local office and FILE ANOTHER APPLICATION (which is incorrect).  Client does not realize that if they were to do that, she will lose benefits from 11/16 to 12/5.  This is why this is wrong information.
Client gives up and goes to overburdened food bank to get help- remember, she has NO income coming in for bills (rent/utilities) much less food.
Mind you, a food stamp case- according to the Feds- must be either certified or denied within THIRTY days of date of application- that due date would be 12/16- we all know that won't happen, because the appointment isn't until JANUARY 9th.
January 9th finally gets here.  The ART worker that is going to interview client is overwhelmed and doubled up at every appointment slot that day- so the Advisor is unable to call client until 4:30.
Interview is FINALLY done.  Guess what?  There is information that is needed to complete the case- since all interviews are done by phone, rather than someone locally, there is no way to have information at the interview to hand the worker (wow, phone interviews are GREAT!)......client has until 1/22 to get the case done.  MORE THAN 60 FULL DAYS AFTER THE CLIENT HAS FILED THE APPLICATION. 
Client gathers information and faxes information to TAA.
Calls 2-1-1 to find out if they have received fax, and is told that it can take a couple of days to be scanned.  Client is, of course, frustrated. 
Cl calls 2-1-1 again on 1/14/08 to see if they have the information yet.  They do.  She asks them when case will be done, and they tell her to contact her caseworker.   Client may or may not have access to long distance mind you.  Also, TAA may see who the advisor is in the case comments, but continue to put client off and won't give her the workers number.  Instead, they offer to transfer her so that she can file a complaint.
On the worker.
Client is transferred and sits on hold, gives up and hangs up.
Client finally gets ahold of caseworker- and because the worker is double booked everyday, and may or may not get a full workday that week (thereby doing the cases that have HAD information turned in before THIS client) so the worker may not even GET TO IT.
The client still has no food or income.
Client calls 2-1-1 and is taken through transfer hell.
Complaint is filed.
Against the caseworker.
Emails are sent out to everyone, and the worker is directed to complete case that day.
Worker works until 8 p.m. to do so.
Client still can't get benefit access until the next day when she can go to the local office to get a lone star card.
Now, think about that for a minute.
Let me say this- if the client had missed the phone call and had called to reschedule, she would have been able to- and the next interview available would have been in FEBRUARY.

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