Georgia’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, provides monthly funds for families to purchase groceries. But over the past few months thousands of Georgians have been without this crucial resource and have been suffering from the loss to a nutritional and healthy diet, especially for children and the elderly.
As hundreds stood in line under sweltering heat conditions, to inquire about the delay in benefits, they learned that the system was severely backlogged with requests for payment.
State officials admit there’s a delay in benefits and admitted that the primary reasons behind the delays are a shortage of workers.
The Department of Human Services said in a statement:
We are working as quickly as possible to get all applications/renewals processed, and are actively hiring to fill positions so we can serve our clients more expeditiously, but we are also being hampered by federal rules and requirements which prevent us from streamlining this process. Senior leadership has met with and urged our federal regulators to approve several waivers that would allow us to process cases faster through new technology and automation. In early June, our federal regulators denied the waiver that would’ve allowed the use of innovative technology for on-demand SNAP interviews for renewals. We still have a pending waiver that would allow a similar ex parte process, and we are only asking for the same flexibility that we’re granted in other areas (as in the case of CMS allowing for automated renewal of Medicaid in some cases), but the same federal actors have not rendered the necessary decisions and our hands continue to be tied. We will continue to have open conversations with our federal partners and stress the importance that the remaining waivers be approved, knowing they will have an immediate and beneficial impact on families awaiting benefits, if approved. Though we have communicated with our federal counterparts frequently and urged them to grant these waivers multiple times, many of them have remained pending for about a year. Nonetheless, we continue to explore ways to secure more flexibility from our federal regulators to process cases more quickly and efficiently. We’re thankful to have support from state government leadership to fund workforce initiatives that have allowed us to hire new caseworkers and pay for technology advancements to improve our efforts in the interim. Keeping the number of pending applications/renewals down is an all-hands-on-deck effort that includes assistance from managers and others who do not typically carry a caseload. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work through their cases.
For more information visit Georgia SNAP Food Assistance | Georgia.gov
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