Jul 10, 2010 8:32 AM by James Amos

Pueblo woman says food stamps delayed

A Pueblo woman says she's been waiting two months for her food stamps. The delay shows that the economy and the state's benefits computer system are having problems.

Lucky Jackson has a young daughter, and older son and if she wasn't living with her sister, no groceries. She said she's disabled and has been on food stamps for five years. People on food stamps have to be certified for them every six months, but Jackson said her certification papers never got to her.

Jackson said she sent the papers in in May but they didn't reach the Pueblo County Department of Social Services. She asked for another set of papers in June but those didn't reach her either.

But food-stamp offices around the state have had problems with the state's computer system. Levetta Love heads the Pueblo County food-stamp offices and said Pueblo usually doesn't have many problems. But recently, she said, the computer system has been slow.

There are a lot more papers to manage now because the caseload for Pueblo and the rest of the state has risen in the last few years because of the recession. Pueblo County has 13,000 households on foodstamps and the state's cases have almost doubled from in the last several years.

Pueblo County agencies have required their workers to take a day a month off work - unpaid - to save money and that hasn't helped the workload either. Love said each day her office isn't open means that as many as 80 people can't set appointments with each case manager.

Jackson said she's tried to talk to her case worker on the phone and left her eight messages in a single day. Jackson also phoned the case manager's supervisor, but hasn't gotten a response.

Love said it's hard for case workers to manage their computer work, appointments and phone calls. Case managers can get more than 100 phone calls a day, and it takes an hour or more just to write down all the messages.

Jackson said she just wants her food stamps for this month. She handed in yet another set of certification papers this week, but may have to wait two to three weeks for her benefits. She and her children live with family members so they won't go hungry. But she doesn't like to impose, she said.

The state pays out between $20 million and $30 million in food stamps each year. Most of the money comes from the federal government.



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