DSS modernization

Recent Posts

DSS’s long-awaited computer fix finally arrives, starting today

The Middletown DSS office.

The mainframe computer system underpinning operations at the state Department of Social Services is so old, there are few people left who know how to fix it. It’s been blamed for stymieing the agency’s ability to handle programs that serve nearly 1 million people. As its replacement launches in part of the state today, officials say some growing pains are expected. Continue Reading →

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Still on hold: A solution for long DSS call-wait times

This is a photo of DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby and George Chamberlin, who runs the benefits centers

It took an average of 54 minutes for callers to reach a Department of Social Services worker by phone last month. That’s an improvement over February’s 70-minute average, and one of the lower average monthly wait times in the past year. But client advocates say it’s long past time things be improved in the phone system, which launched in July 2013 as part of a highly touted “modernization” initiative. Continue Reading →

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DSS phone wait time drops (to 66 minutes)

The average wait time to reach a state Department of Social Services by phone in September. The red bars represent Mondays.

Nearly two thirds of callers who wanted to speak to a worker at the state Department of Social Services hung up before getting through, but that, too, was an improvement over previous months. In September, 64 percent of callers who wanted to reach a worker hung up first, compared to 71 percent in August and 75 percent in July. Continue Reading →

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Need to reach a DSS worker? Can you hold for 78 minutes?

This is a photo of Angela Lewis-Shakes

More than a year after the state Department of Social Services changed its phone system, people who rely on it say it remains unacceptably difficult to reach a worker. Last month, callers looking to speak to a person waited on hold an average of 78 minutes. And 71 percent hung up first. Continue Reading →

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DSS call center wait times drop, but two-thirds of callers still hanging up

This is a picture of The Department of Social Services' performance data for March.

Callers who wanted to talk to a Department of Social Services worker by phone last month had to wait an average of 39 minutes and 29 seconds to do so. That’s down from one hour and 13 minutes in February. Social service officials say that’s progress, but client advocates say another figure gives more cause for concern. Continue Reading →

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DSS’ new system wrongly cutting off benefits, advocates say

DSS office

Even though Pamela Brown twice sent in the paperwork needed to maintain her family’s Medicaid benefits, she ended up uninsured. That meant she had to pay out-of-pocket for her 3-year-old daughter’s flu shot last month (needed for day care) and, for a time, went without her thyroid medication because she couldn’t afford both the prescription and groceries. “I was trying to wait it out because I did everything [the state Department of Social Services] had wanted me to, twice,” Brown said. One of Abigail Egan’s clients, a woman whose daughter has spina bifida, learned her Medicaid coverage had been terminated when she went to the doctor and was turned away early this month, according to Egan, the human services director for the town of Plymouth. Legal aid attorneys say there are many more people who also lost their benefits despite doing what was needed to continue receiving assistance. Continue Reading →

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DSS modernization has made things worse, some say

Rod Bremby 7-17-13 ALB

Glenda Perez said she’d already sent in the paperwork needed to maintain her food stamps when she got a notice last month saying they were being discontinued. She called the state Department of Social Services, using the single phone number that everyone in the state who wants to reach a worker is supposed to use. But it didn’t connect her to a worker. Instead, she said, she’d wait 20 to 25 minutes, then get cut off. “When you try to get in touch with them, you can’t get anybody. Continue Reading →

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