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Recertifying for state benefits

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  • Recertifying for state benefits

    I'm on foodstamps, and for the past 2 weeks I've been trying to recertify. Should be easy, no? Just provide proof of income (hasn't changed much), proof of residency and expenses (hasn't changed much).

    I swear they assume anyone on benefits has nothing better to do than sit around waiting for a phone call.

    June 29th: I receive a letter saying that I need to recertify, and they need [basically the entire application again] by June 30th. Um, what? My original acceptance letter says I don't need to recertify until October. The 30th is a weekend, and I just got this a day before. Federal law gives me until July 14th to submit. OK, I get a few more days. I gather everything, fax it in. I enclose a note saying that I work a night shift, and not to call before the time I have specified under contact info (2PM on Fridays). When does the caseworker call? Yup, 8AM Friday. I call her back as soon as I get up, of course it goes to voicemail. Leave a message saying that I was home, but asleep and X is the best time to reach me. Also that my schedule is variable and I leave my cell phone number.

    July 7th: I get a packet in the mail containing everything I just faxed them, with a letter saying I needed to return it (which says I can FAX it in). Sigh. OK, mail everything with return receipt. RR says it was delivered two days later.

    July 25th: They want verification of employment from mom's church, where I filled in for her twice after her surgery. It's nowhere near enough to merit IRS reporting (a whole $100), but they do withhold so that's probably why it came up. She will get a letter from the office manager saying that I only work there a few times a year.

    July 29th: I get another letter, basically acting like I had never submitted any documents at all. Deadline for my case not to be closed is August 4th. I call caseworker back again, say that I got their latest letter and that I submitted everything on X. Y, and Z dates and to please give me a few days (and call me back ASAP on either number). I also give an email address; I want as much of a paper trail as I can get with these clowns.

    Through all this, the only phone contact I get from the DTA caseworker was the initial call which I could not pick up right away. If they want to interview me, why only call once?

    This is insane.
    "Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete."

  • #2
    We've had a rough time re-certifying for food stamps too. We got the letter saying we needed to recertify and what documents to send in. We sent the documents in.

    The caseworker called us but I was working 3rd shift and asleep, so she left a message. But she was mumbling and barely speaking above a whisper throughout the whole message. I tried listening it on my computer with the volume cranked, and noise canceling headphones on. I still couldn't understand it.

    So we called Jobs and Family Services and explained the situation. We were told they would put a note in our file to have our caseworker call us. It took several weeks for the caseworker to contact us. She told us they hadn't received one document from my DH's former job stating he no longer worked there. His former employer claims they sent it though. So we asked how do we get this straightened out. The caseworker says DH can write a self declaration he is no longer employed there and fax it to them. So DH does that and we don't hear anything from the caseworker for over a week.

    DH called Jobs and Family Services again. Our caseworker cannot be reached but another caseworker looks up our case and says that they received all of the documentation but our case has not been updated even though it should have been. She makes another note in our file to have the caseworker call us back within 24-48 hours. A week went by and we heard nothing from the caseworker.

    So two days ago we called Jobs and Family Services again. This time they escalated it to an emergency situation, and escalated it a supervisor. Two days later and we have heard nothing from the supervisor, but they won't escalate it to a section supervisor until tomorrow, because technically the supervisor has until the end of the business day today to contact us. But I'm not counting on them actually calling us, so we'll probably be on the phone again tomorrow.


    • #3
      Re-certifying is so flipping annoying, I sympathize completely.
      "And I won't say "Woe is me"/As I disappear into the sea/'Cause I'm in good company/As we're all going together"


      • #4
        Update (not really, this has been going on since JUNE). Luckily we're not that hard up, but the benefits do help as that means a little more that I can contribute to the rent.

        On August 5th, I get a letter dated the FIRST (originally, I had until August 4th to submit everything, which I did) saying that my case was on hold because they didn't get everything they needed to process it.

        Date for my case not to be closed (which I have in writing): August 4th
        Date it was placed 'on hold' (essentially closed): August 1st, three days before.

        My dad summed it up perfectly: "Is she really THAT willfully stupid?!"

        My caseworker could not grasp the fact that the church job is extremely sporadic, I only come in when either mom or her boss is on vacation and the count only takes a few hours once a week. Maybe 12 hours a YEAR, if that. Maybe she thinks that since it's on paper it must be a 9-5 job. It's the Archdiocese, they are required by law to withhold/report even if I'm 'clocked in' for ten minutes. So our boss wrote a letter on church letterhead explaining the situation. He included his direct phone number if they had any questions...they never called him and I have not received anything either.

        If I don't hear anything by the date I'm normally scheduled to receive funds (the 7th) I have a few big guns I can call in. I think they're just looking for any reason to drop people. This is what grinds my gears; the people working down there probably make more than my mom and I combined and get benefits...for trying to deny people the same.
        Last edited by Dreamstalker; 08-29-2014, 06:53 PM.
        "Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete."


        • #5
          I've had issues with recertifying, myself, but never anything quite this bad. My favorite was the one where they sent me a letter (February this year) saying to expect a phone call in the next week or so to tell me when I needed to come in to recertify (I knew I had until at least the end of that month). Said call never came, so I just took an extended, late lunch at work and went to their office at around 2PM the following Friday. After the usual wait time in the lobby, I was told that my appointment had been set for.....wait for it....that day, two hours prior. Never got a call, nor a letter, nor anything else. They ended up rescheduling for the following week, where it went fine aside from the case worker's implication that it was MY fault that they never called me; they gave me no reason to suspect that they would even have given me a "you missed your appointment" call, either -- they would have just let the whole thing die, instead.

          Sometimes, it seems like a milder version of an insurance company -- as if their job were to prevent people from getting benefits.
          "Judge not, lest ye get shot in your bed while your sleep." - Liz, The Dreadful
          "If you villainize people who contest your points, you will eventually find yourself surrounded by enemies that you made." - Philip DeFranco


          • #6
            One of my regular customers is going through the same thing; she's legally blind and they keep asking her to fill out paperwork (she lives alone and doesn't have anyone to help her do it).

            It would be far easier for both of us to simply go down to the offices in person, but DTA doesn't want people doing that--unless of course they decide for you when you can be there.

            The way it actually works, you send your paperwork to a PO box on the South Shore and have no way of knowing when (or if) it gets to the offices less than an hour away from here. Return Receipts get filled out with a scrawl so you have no idea who signed for it, and everything is "don't call us, we'll call you". And if they fail to notify an applicant of an appointment, it's the applicant's fault.
            Last edited by Dreamstalker; 09-01-2014, 06:02 PM.
            "Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete."


            • #7
              Welp, it's over (for now). Got a letter today that says my case has been denied because "your household income exceeds the threshold for benefits." I'm the only person in my home applying and my income is definitely below the poverty line; I'm wondering what their criteria is (the only thing I can think of is, they are somehow linking my mom's and my income but how and why?). If they factored in the necessity of rent the way they should be, our income is negative.

              I'm going to do some research on my own and reopen things (probably through the state disability agency I worked with for the initial application--they tend to scare other agencies) when I get more information.
              Last edited by Dreamstalker; 09-04-2014, 01:58 AM.
              "Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete."