Problems remain |

Problems remain

Social Services struggles with new system

At Moffat County Social Services, problems with a new benefit system are only getting worse.

Since its introduction in September, the Colorado Benefits Management System has been causing problems across the state.

In Moffat County, it has caused 536 cases to be backlogged.

At least 25 percent of the cases can’t be resolved in the local office, said Laura Willems, who has been leading the switch to the new system.

As a result, some Social Services clients aren’t receiving their benefits.

One month ago, Marie Peer, Social Services director, and Willems expressed optimism that the glitches in the system would be worked out.

They didn’t show that optimism Tuesday while meeting with the Moffat County commissioners.

“The long-term effect is not improving,” Willems said.

Two months after adopting the system, Social Services still is having problems processing benefit claims.

The system requires more information than the previous one, and some of that information, such as the birth date of a client’s landlord, is unknown by many clients.

That makes updating the system difficult.

“It’s nothing to spend 40 hours trying to get a case to go through,” Willems said.

When a case does go through, the system often calculates the benefit incorrectly.

It can issue claims that clients owe the department as much as $1,000, which upsets clients when the bills arrive in the mail.

Everything must be manually checked when the system calculates a benefit.

“Paper and pencil would be easier,” Peer said.

Social Services has about 30 open “tickets,” that is, problems the state needs to help the county fix.

Each ticket can affect 10, 20 or 30 cases, Willems said.

Peer complained that the state is not appropriating the money to fix the system.

That money is needed “desperately,” she said.

“If we’ve got someone out there that it impacted to the point of not receiving food stamps or something to eat, we’ve got to do something about this,” Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

The commissioners voted to write a letter to state Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, and state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, asking for their assistance in encouraging that state to appropriate money to fix the system.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or

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