Welfare Office Backlog: Panhandle Seeing Better Rates

Many people in Texas are experiencing a delay in getting their welfare applications processed, but the Panhandle may be the exception.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services says our area is actually reporting about a 97 percent rate of getting the applications processed within a month after they are filed. According to the Department of Health and Human Services the average for the rest of Texas is 86 percent.

"Most of the delays have occurred in the larger metropolitan areas: Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio.  We seem to be doing better in this part of the country," said State Representative John Smithee.

A new computer program and an increase in the number of people applying for welfare programs are hitting the system hard, creating an overload.

Those in our area who are experiencing problems or delays are naturally frustrated.

"If they're having problems with backlogging, maybe they need to get a new person in there who can do it right. It's just aggravating and frustrating," said Shannon Jaques, who was at the Department of Human Services office in Amarillo applying for Medicaid for her daughter.

Those most affected by the backlog are people applying for food stamps. Rebecca Bradshaw says she has nowhere else to turn, and is worried her food stamp application will take too long to process.

"I have to wait two weeks to get an appointment when I need the money to get groceries. Without groceries I don't have enough energy to work," said Bradshaw.

Stephanie Goodman with the Health and Human Services office in Austin says those who are also facing some delays are those enrolled in the Women's Health Program.