Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Will online applications limit access to assistance?

An online computer application is replacing long waits in lines and piles of paperwork for those applying for cash assistance, food stamps and Medicaid in Florida.

But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

“If these people had the luxuries of vehicles, computers and all this kind of stuff, they wouldn’t need welfare,” said Rep. Will Kenrick, D-Carrabelle, a member of the House Committee on the Future of Florida’s Families. “This just floors me. The whole system is more about streamlining than access. The harder you make it for access, the less who will apply ... They’re trying to streamline it on the backs of the most vulnerable.”

Paper applications are still available. But many of the state workers once assigned to help people through the hoops of getting welfare are gone.

To apply by computer: Click here and complete the online application. If you have questions or need more information, call toll-free 866-762-2237.


At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

Do you know that they closed the local contacts here in Central Florida and set up a 1-800 number in Tampa? It takes an hour and a half of waiting to get the answer to a question on Medicaid. I was helping someone last week understand the paperwork sent to them from Medicaid - I was lost! I am an educated person and could't make heads or tails out of the paperwork! I happened to have a Mediciad expert at my disposal to check for me, but that is not available to the average person. Asking people to use computers who don't use them every day is just plain dumb. But we know what they are up to, don't we?

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

No, I didn't exactly know that ... but I'm not surprised to hear it. My students at FAMU College of Law are thinking that assisting with computer applications would be an easy way to help others.

(I guess I can only claim to be the second-to-last liberal in Central Florida, huh?)

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At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Injured, lost, and forgotten in St. Pete said...

I'm disabled, so for me it's good news that food stamp applications are taken online now, but I understand how it can be very problematic for many who need them desperately but don't have a street address much less computer access. I too have waited 2 hours to talk to someone at that Tampa number.

Nine years ago (2 months after my 50th birthday) my hell began when I was injured on the job and received Worker's Comp for awhile and then was cut off from that while still unable to work. I was in desperate need but was refused food stamps because I couldn't prove I wasn't working. I left the DCF office in tears that day. Social Security had also turned me down, and I was left to cash in my 401K (taking a huge penalty) and live on that as long as I could (which wasn't very long. Between then and now, I lived through a nightmare.

Now that I'm officially disabled, have proof of disability income, and have been reduced to having no other monies or assets, I'm finally able to get food stamps.

I was reduced from being a healthy, fully functioning individual to a helpless and painful existance. There is something critically wrong with a system that will allow an injured person to slip through the cracks like that. Even one of my Worker's Comp neurologists said that if I lived in any other state than Florida, I would have been taken care of medically and financially until I could get back on my feet. I was truly treated as a non-person and believe to this day that with the proper medical care I wouldn't be in the bad shape I'm in.

A car wreck and 9 years after my first injury, I have lost hope. Now, I live in fear that I'll end up in some state supported nursing facility somewhere and subjected to even more humiliation.

Unfortunately, since I'm alone, I had to sign off on an extremely small settlement from the OJT injury and sign away my rights to further redress if the Worker's Compensation Law changed in the future. Well, it did change, and there is nothing I can do. This is not the way I planned to spend my latter years. The system is truly broken and not enough people realize it yet.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Injured in St. Pete further said...

Sorry, at the end of my previous post, I meant to type on-the-job injury ... not OJT injury. I was not in training on my job when I got hurt.

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