Monday, July 4, 2011

Joys of Running a Benefits Program Onsite

My agency hosted a benefits program a couple of weeks ago. Federal reps came in to process the applications and Empoder's job was to advertise the event and mediate traffic the day of the event.

An important conclusion if we choose to do this again: Be as specific as possible when advertising what documentats clients need to bring.

As.

Specific.

As possible.

Make sure all case managers know so they could review them with their clients. Now, I did make fairly detailed flyers that were fairly detailed and that asked clients bring the most recent copy of their income.

"But Social Security Administration didn't raise disability benefits in the past 2 years so what does it matter?"

The answer is the rules I do not make.* This answer is profoundly less joyous the day of the event.

Though I'm the most detail oriented person in the world even I didn't provide such detail in my written handouts. I know now how I would improve it but on the other hand, no handout covers everything. Even with an organized list of eligibility requirements there are several possible what ifs. What if a person has an expired ID? Or has a rent receipt but not a lease? Or no income this month but will starting from next month but right now her aunt is paying towards household expenses and her cousin isn't really staying with her but for most days out of the month she does da da da da da.

One good thing, it helps to run a benefit's program with familiar clients because some needed paperwork may already be available in a client's file. It's also easier to deescalate a situation when you or another case manager knows the upset person (aka client) who has been waiting for an hour and a half and found she's missing a document.

Important side notes: Keep a clear sign in sheet showing order of people who came in. Also, it certainly helps to check in with waiting clients occasionally and let them know how long wait will be. Or, since it may be hard to assess exact time, estimate how many more people may be seen.


* Technically Social Security Administration is supposed to mail you an awards letter (document that states how much you receive in disability benefits each month) each year but not everyone gets them. Or places them in a memorable place. Or knows what they are exactly.

1 comment:

Mozart said...

It is always surprising the difference language when dealing with social service agencies and multiple clients. Glad to see that you took this as a lesson learned. No matter where someone is in the profession it appears that stellar writing and documentation is a must.

Thanks for the reminder.