Local News

New software delays food stamps for some

Posted February 11, 2013

— A state computer program that is supposed to streamline social services is causing some people to wait longer for their funds.

Seventy-six counties are already using NC FAST, which stands for Families Accessing Services through Technology. Another 22 counties, including Wake County, switch to the Web-based system this weekend, with Mecklenburg and Forsyth counties changing over in March.

Dozens of families in Nash County said Monday that the new system has meant a delay in food stamp benefits.

A woman named Debbie, who declined to give her last name, said she has been without food stamps for six weeks.

"I think the state should have thought this thing out a little bit better, and I think they should've found another way to do this where families wouldn't suffer," Debbie said.

William Radford, who hasn't been able to work while caring for a sick family member, said he likewise hasn't gotten his benefits loaded on to a debit card since he re-certified with the Nash County Department of Social Services.

"I'm still wondering when we'll get them," Radford said.

NC Fast system DSS says new computer system more cumbersome to use

DSS Director Melvia Batts said her staff is bogged down learning the NC FAST system. About 8,000 cases have to be manually entered into the new system, she said, which is a cumbersome process.

"There are a lot more clicks that workers have to do in order to process cases," Batts said, adding that the delay in benefits concerns her.

Nash County has hired temporary workers to help with the caseloads, and some DSS workers will go through training again.

"We're still trying to figure this out," Batts said.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that there is a learning curve with NC FAST, but she said many counties have made a smooth transition.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Crumps Br0ther Feb 13, 2013

    Do you need an ID to obatain one of these cards?

  • paultaylorsr100 Feb 12, 2013

    Why don't we just give them all soup, cra&%$@, (and I mean saltines - wral won't let me say the "C" word) and bottled water for lunch? Good nutrition and it would be inexpensive.

  • cushioncritter Feb 12, 2013

    Why aren't White House initiatives such as the "The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" being applied to food stamp recipients so they might only purchase healthy food items (as defined by "Let's Move" Michelle) with their EBT benefits, just like in a school cafeteria?

    From whitehouse.gov:

    'The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (P.L. 111-296): This groundbreaking piece of legislation was
    signed into law so all kids have healthier food in school and even more have access to a healthy lunch.
    The legislation gives the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in
    schools during the school day, including vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.'

    This would also help the state budget as only "healthy" foods would be 2% sales tax, and unhealthy foods would become 6.75%. This would also drop future costs for Medicaid.

  • maybelle Feb 12, 2013

    I still want to know who the counties are that are not having problems.
    And I still feel you should file income tax every year to show your benefits. Even if you pay nothing on the benefits.
    47 years with DHHS Junkmail5- let me tell you about fraud and abuse of the system sometime

  • HeadsUp Feb 12, 2013

    If you think this is bad, wait until DHHS launches a new statewide Medicaid billing system this summer -- the same one that got hammered last year in a state audit for doubling in cost and falling two years behind schedule, and counting.

    Whoever thinks it will work well, raise your hand... Anyone?

  • junkmail5 Feb 12, 2013

    Why? The Feds tax both UE and SS benefits.

    Not quite...

    UE you have the OPTION to have taxes taken out or not (at least I did for the couple weeks I was on it several years ago).

    In theory you may or may not owe taxes by the end of the year depending how much you earn in total.

    SS they do NOT tax if you earn under 25k a year total (which is quite a lot of people on SS)

    In other words- if you're really poor, they do NOT tax either program.

    If you're on food stamps, you are by definition already really poor. Hence taxing them is incredibly dumb.

  • shortyhmb Feb 12, 2013

    Wayne County is delayed too. I was supposed to have re-certify began in Feb. I was told I may not get any food stamps until sometime in March. People had no warning about the change!!! It has really hurt most people and I am sure one pf those people since I can not find a job right now either.

  • aetius476 Feb 12, 2013

    "It should be mandatory that income taxes be filed on benefits. maybelle
    Re-read that until you realize how dumb an idea it is." - Junkmail5

    Why? The Feds tax both UE and SS benefits.

  • Uhavenoclu Feb 12, 2013

    There is always glitches.Now it's your state income tax returns.They tell you to call a number about your amount between 8a-5p and the number is always busy...hmmm.?
    Looks like the high tech world of NC is not so advanced and reliable? all they care ABOUT IS PLAYING GAMES.

  • free2bme Feb 12, 2013

    Readme-- accountability is a good thing but being humane is greater. There will always be those that abuse any system. Unfortunately there is no perfect people unlike some think. But when has this country ever not took care of its own. It is not a babies fault that he or she was born into a bad situation. That baby still should be able to eat because it is not able to care for itself yet. I know many that received food stamps as children and now they are productive citizens. They were thankful that there was help for them when they needed. Dependency is a problem for sure for some but not all. But how do you pick and choose between the ones that are just being dependent and the ones that really need help getting up.