Behind every number is a story. Both come together in Benefits Data Trust’s 2022 Impact Report on ways we can strengthen our nation’s social safety net — and why we must.
Most notably, I am proud that BDT reached a milestone last year of securing more than $10 billion worth of public benefits for families and individuals since our founding in 2005. That translates into real, tangible assistance to help people meet their basic needs. That’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, college students, veterans, people with disabilities — all served with kindness and dignity. That’s hundreds of thousands of people connected to assistance that often makes the difference between hardship and catastrophe.
Each day, our benefits outreach specialists answer more than 700 phone calls — including from people like Andrew, a 27-year-old father of two from Michigan. Last year, Andrew received a text message letting him know that, as a Medicaid recipient, he was likely eligible for food assistance. The text — one of more than 3 million BDT sent last year — invited Andrew to call our Michigan Benefits Center, where our outreach specialist determined he was eligible for benefits and submitted his application for nearly $600 a month to help feed his family.
In 2022, BDT secured an average of $4,100 in total benefits per household, helping families like Andrew’s afford essentials like groceries, healthcare, and housing.
Andrew’s story represents a single interaction, a single piece of data, that not only helps us understand what people are experiencing in their lives, but also validates what works to successfully connect them to what they need. The more people we help, the more data we have to support government leaders and public servants as they navigate the real-time, hard practicalities of administering these programs, and to inform changes to benefits access systems so all eligible people can access public benefits with greater dignity.
The unfortunate truth is that year after year, millions of families across America struggle to afford necessities — while at the same time, more than $80 billion goes untapped in available help from programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, and the Affordable Connectivity Program.
At Benefits Data Trust, we are committed to meeting the challenge of closing this $80 billion gap over the next decade and making benefits more accessible and equitable.
Our efforts are dynamic and take many different forms on any given day — from building a system based on machine learning tools to clean data from our government partners, to helping states such as California and Kentucky mitigate the impact of expiring COVID-19 pandemic-era policies that helped families keep health insurance and afford groceries for the last three years.
The complexity of improving America’s benefits access system is on full display in our Impact Report, underscoring not only the depth and breadth of our work, but also the expansive nature of the challenge we are trying to solve.
All of this makes BDT a vital leader in approaching a solvable challenge in our country: Providing people what they need to enable all of us to thrive.