The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. Application Availability

01/01/2003

Making application forms available through a variety of sources increases accessibility because they are easier to obtain, provide individuals the ability to see in advance what types of information are required, and facilitate efforts to provide screening and application assistance. Welfare offices always have application forms available for in-person pick-up, but they are also available by mail in most sites and even over the Internet in some sites (see Exhibit 4-1). Application forms may also be made available in non-welfare office settings, such as public health clinics, food pantries, and Voluntary Resettlement Agencies (VOLAGs).

Site TANF Food Stamps Medicaid SCHIP
Exhibit 4-1:
Availability of Applications
Study Sites, 2001)
Arlington* Mail
Office
Mail
Office
Mail
Internet*
Office
Mail
Internet*
Office
Dallas Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
New York Office Only Mail
Office
Mail
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Raleigh Office Only Office Only Mail
Office Only
Mail
Internet
Office
Seattle Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Mail
Internet
Office
Sedalia Mail
Office
Mail
Office
Mail
Office

Mail
Internet
Office

* Applicants can initiate the TANF and food stamps application process by downloading an online Request for Assistance form which can be filled out and mailed in but this action does not eliminate the need to fill out the full application and attend an eligibility interview.

In Dallas, Seattle, and Arlington, applications for all four types of benefits are readily available in the welfare office reception area and can also be mailed upon request to applicants or downloaded from the Internet. Both Texas and Washington also offer potential applicants a statewide on-line program that enables individuals to complete a self-screening to find out if they potentially qualify for different types of benefits. To apply for Medicaid/SCHIP in Dallas, for example, applicants can use an interactive on-line program that fills out the form for the applicant by asking a series of questions. When finished, the applicant can print and mail in the application. Washington has advanced online applications even further and provides individuals the opportunity to actually fill out and submit an application for TANF, FSP, Medicaid, or SCHIP using an interactive on-line program.2

In contrast, the only way that families in Raleigh can obtain an application for TANF and FSP is to physically go to the welfare office and request an application from the receptionist. Medicaid and SCHIP applications can be obtained by mail or at the welfare office.3 In New York City, applications for cash assistance can only be obtained by visiting the welfare office, while applicants for food stamps-only and Medicaid-only can also obtain applications through the mail. In both Raleigh and New York City, SCHIP applications are also available through the Internet.

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