The state discovered more than 8,000 pending applications for food stamps in Guilford County, a development that puts the state at risk of losing federal administrative funding if it misses a Monday deadline to clear a backlog.
We reported yesterday about DHHS’ discovery of the pending cases, which N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos informed lawmakers about at an oversight committee hearing Wednesday. Missing the deadline could mean the loss of $88 million in funding the state receives to distribute the food assistance program.
On Wednesday, Wos said she didn’t know what the scope of pending cases were, having just been informed before Wednesday morning’s meeting, but told legislators that the delayed cases weren’t a result of the troubled N.C. FAST technology system. The cases had not been entered into the system.
The state had been on track to meet a Monday deadline set by federal officials to clear a backlog that had been in the thousands but had dropped to 520 cases, Wos said.
WRAL spoke with Guilford County officials today, and learned that more than 8,100 cases are waiting to be processed. More than 100 people are expected to work on the backlog over the weekend.
Guilford County officials say they’re calling in extra help to process 8,100 backlogged food stamp applications before a critical deadline next week.
Commissioner Ray Trapp said Thursday that officials “have a plan in place that we’re pretty sure is going to work.”
About 100 people will work for the next five days to meet the Monday deadline set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the state to clear an ongoing backlog in processing applications for food stamps, Trapp said.
About half are county staff. The rest will be state workers, contractors and workers in other counties’ social services offices on loan to Guilford County.
The applications had never been entered into the state’s benefits management system, NC FAST, so they did not appear on the state’s tracking records. Trapp said the problem was actually discovered by a state worker who had come to the county office to help with NC FAST problems.
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UPDATE: The Greensboro News & Record has more details on what is behind the Guilford County backlog. Guilford’s social services directors failed to tell county commissioners that there was a steadily increasing pile of cases waiting for recertification, and Guilford commissioners say they plan to investigate once the backlog is taken care of.
The department released a brief statement Thursday, saying only that it is working to clear the backlog and remains in touch with state and county officials.
Lawing said Williams led the board and him to believe the county’s backlog had been handled in February.
“Obviously that wasn’t the case,” Lawing said Thursday.
Trapp said neither the Guilford County Board of Commissioners nor the county DSS board were told of such a problem before this week.
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