Department of Health assistance programs still backed up
Heating assistance program applications that came in during the month of October are still being processed, according to the department
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A months-long backlog in some public assistance programs has continued to affect Alaskans looking for help.
While the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been a key program hurt by the delays, the heating assistance program within the Alaska Department of Health is also suffering from the backlog.
According to Social Services Program Coordinator Jason Burke, heating assistance program applications that came in during the month of October are still being processed.
“We’re fairly well through October at this point, but moving into November with supplemental nutrition assistance program applications,” Burke said. “Recertification applications are being processed for November benefits at this time.”
The SNAP applications and recertification applications are currently most affected. They are also facing delays with other programs due to the SNAP backlog.
Burke says the backlog is due to the high volume of applications in August of last year.
“We anticipated being able to meet with a higher volume with new technology improvements that were supposed to be in place, but because of a cyberattack in May of 2021, we did not have the technology improvements in place to deal with the volume of applications,” Burke said.
The department also realized the limitations they faced due to staffing. Burke said they have been working on improving their systems and their staffing to better meet the demand.
“We want to make sure that they get this (help) that they need to meet their daily living expenses,” Burke said.
In many cases, Burke said anyone needing help can call 211, the state’s social assistance number, to get additional help on food and heating benefits.
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