PHILADELPHIA, January 23, 2024 – Benefits Data Trust (BDT), a national nonprofit modernizing access to government assistance since 2005, will collaborate with government agencies in seven states to establish or improve methods for people to sign applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the phone. Participating agencies are from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Vermont.
In addition to helping the state agencies adopt telephonic signatures for SNAP applications, BDT will support them to use SNAP enrollment data to streamline Medicaid renewals, a practice that can have significant impact on enabling people who remain eligible for Medicaid to maintain healthcare benefits.
“We are excited to dive in with the participating agencies to make the SNAP process easier for all involved and improve the experience millions of people have with government benefits,” said Ki`i Kimhan Powell, senior director of Policy at Benefits Data Trust. “Speeding up any part of the application process helps reduce the waiting and processing times required before eligible people begin receiving benefits.”
BDT will support the seven agencies to simplify the SNAP application process for families and individuals and for community-based organizations that assist state agencies in screening and enrolling applicants by phone. The simplified process will also help agencies reduce the workload on overburdened government workers.
How the participating agencies currently obtain signatures from SNAP applicants who apply by phone varies. Some of the agencies have no system of telephonic signature in place, instead sending the application by mail to be physically signed and returned by the applicant – a time- and labor-intensive method. Others are looking to improve their process for documenting applicants’ verbal attestation, or signature over the phone.
Millions of people have lost or face reduced food assistance and health insurance since the end of pandemic-related temporary expansions and modifications to benefit programs last year, while government agencies continue to have massive caseloads amid staffing shortages.
Since 2005, BDT has streamlined access to benefits for millions of people in 18 states by helping state governments adopt policy and practice changes. As part of this project, BDT will evaluate the impact of telephonic signature on access to SNAP and on agency staff workload.
The state agencies collaborating with BDT to implement or improve telephonic signature for SNAP applications are:
- Illinois Department of Human Services
- Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
- Minnesota Department of Human Services
- Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services
- Oklahoma Human Services
- Tennessee Department of Human Services
- Vermont Department for Children & Families, Economic Services Division
The agencies will receive one-on-one technical assistance from the BDT policy team to adopt or improve the SNAP telephonic signature process. This may include support to implement a waiver to allow simple case documentation to record the SNAP applicant’s assent that the information provided is true. Participants will also benefit from peer support through monthly group meetings facilitated by BDT, so that agency representatives can learn from their counterparts at sister agencies.
This work is made possible with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Families and Workers Fund.
In 2023, BDT worked with six state Medicaid agencies to advance policies and practices that reduce the cycling of individuals on and off Medicaid coverage.
About Benefits Data Trust
Benefits Data Trust (BDT) improves health and financial security by harnessing the power of data, technology, and policy to provide dignified and equitable access to assistance. Together with a national network of government agencies and partners, we efficiently connect people today to programs that pay for food, healthcare, and more while helping to modernize benefits access for tomorrow. A nonprofit since 2005, BDT has secured more than $10 billion in benefits for households across the country, helping to reduce hunger and poverty and build pathways to economic mobility. Learn more at bdtrust.org.