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

01/01/2003

The eligibility determination interview is a standard feature of the TANF/FSP/Medicaid and food stamp-only application processes and typically (although not always) requires applicants to make an additional trip to the welfare office. During eligibility interviews, workers review applications with clients, fill in missing information, and assemble supporting documentation (see Chapter 5). The eligibility interview also provides an opportunity for workers to complete any section of the application left blank due to lack of understanding or preparation on the part of applicants. As most welfare offices do not offer extended hours, meeting this requirement may pose difficulties for employed individuals. If they cannot get time off from work to complete this interview, they may not be determined eligible for assistance.

In contrast to TANF and FSP, many states do not require a face-to-face eligibility interview for Medicaid/SCHIP. Many simply did not include this requirement when creating their SCHIP application processes. Some states also opted to eliminate the historic requirement for a face-to-face interview for Medicaid for children or pregnant women. This is one important way states have simplified the Medicaid and SCHIP application process.

At the time of our site visits (June-December 2001), Arlington, Raleigh, Seattle, and Sedalia did not require face-to-face eligibility interviews for Medicaid-only or SCHIP applicants. Texas ended the face-to-face requirement for children applying for Medicaid/SCHIP as of January 2002. New York City requires a face-to-face eligibility interview, which may be conducted at Medicaid-only welfare offices or by community-based facilitated enrollers in non-welfare settings.

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