Attention Food Assistance Recipients: Fees Start March 1

We received word from the state this month that the vendor for our food assistance cards will soon charge fees to those customers who call the customer service line excessively. I want to make sure everyone knows this so the fees do not come as a surprise. We have more than 137,000 food assistance recipients in this community!

The fees start March 1. Ohio EPPICard users who call the customer service hotline more than 10 times per month will be charged a fee of 25 cents for each call over number 10.

The fee has always existed, but the vendor has not previously charged customers. Monitoring has found that some customers call the customer service line repeatedly each month, far exceeding the 10 call limit.

After their tenth call of the month, customers will hear a message reminding them that fees will accumulate after that call. Calls made by customers will not count towards the limit if they are made to:

– select or change their PIN numbers
– report a lost, stolen or damaged card
– report a suspected PIN compromise
– question a transaction

More information is available here. Please pass the word on so everyone knows!

Advertisements

Youtube Helps Agency Inform Customers

We recently posted a new video to Youtube that helps explain how to file online for public assistance help. This is another effort to improve customer service — we want to serve our customers where they are, instead of making them come to us.

This video is very helpful in walking someone through the process. Here’s a link:

http://www.youtube.com/hcjfs#p/u/0/bCnWIkLLU_4

Many may not be aware that we have several helpful videos about our services and our agency out on Youtube. Our agency has its own channel! Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/hcjfs

Phone interviews save time and money

We have done a lot the past year or so to reduce lobby traffic. At one point, we were experiencing about 60,000 people a month coming into our lobby. The economy has taken a large toll on our community and we have experienced record caseloads in some of our public assistance programs.

This hit at the same time as large budget reductions from the state, which resulted in the loss of more than 50 percent of our staff. We were forced to learn new ways of doing business so we could meet growing demand with fewer people. We were innovative in coming up with many of our own ideas, and we looked to other successful models to copy.

One change is that we now conduct all recertification interviews by phone. This also applies for recipients applying for an additional category of assistance. They no longer need to come downtown, spend money on gas and parking and wait in a long lines. For more information, click here.

We will continue to look for better ways to serve our community. Customer service is always a top priority.

Free Tax Preparation

W-2s came out this week and I just want to remind everyone that low-income Hamilton County residents may qualify for free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Greater Cincinnati’s United Way is helping families file for free online or with a tax preparation specialist at a local tax site. If you make less than $49,000, you can have your return prepared by a local volunteer at a tax site.

And this is a great way to see if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)!

Call United Way 211 or visit www.makeworkpay.com for locations. If you earn less than $57,000, you can file for free at www.myfreetaxes.com.