Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced the launch of a new, user-friendly web-based service for the state's Department of Social Services (DSS) that gives the agency's 750,000 clients the ability to check on the status of their benefits online and provides members of the general public with a pre-screening tool to learn about which services they may be eligible for.
The service, which can be found online by visiting www.connect.ct.gov, marks the first step of the department's wide-ranging "ConneCT" modernization initiative, designed to bring 21st Century technology to an agency working to keep up with record demand for food and medical assistance.
"While today's launch of this new web service is just the first step, it's one of several important upgrades the department will be undertaking in this crucial modernization process," Governor Malloy said. "If we are going to streamline services and reduce costs, we must bring the tools DSS uses to ensure that our elderly, children, families and adults receive adequate services into the 21st Century."
With the new online service, Connecticut joins many other states in offering clients the ability to set up online accounts to check the status of benefits, much like banks, stores and credit card companies provide. Dubbed "MyAccount," the feature allows DSS clients the ability to track a variety of information, including SNAP (food stamps), HUSKY/Medicaid and other benefit information. Data is stored securely and can be accessed by computer or smartphone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"This series of technological improvements will gradually change the service landscape at DSS for the benefit of Connecticut residents, the agency's dedicated staff, and taxpayers in general," Governor Malloy said. "We are literally taking an agency from obsolescence in terms of overwhelmed phones and laborious paper processing into the modern age of business systems. The online services are just the start."
"In addition to helping families and individuals across the state, this customer service measure will free our hard-pressed staff from fielding many of the routine requests for information that detract from actual casework," Commissioner Bremby said. "This will help improve overall efficiency and reduce the frustration levels of clients who have difficulty getting through on the phone."
Also available at www.connect.ct.gov is the new "Am I Eligible?" interactive pre-screening tool, which provides visitors with a list of services for which they may be eligible to receive after having had submitted confidential answers to a series of questions about their household. The pre-screening takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Over the next year, DSS is preparing to launch additional "ConneCT" features, including a statewide, toll-free interactive voice-response phone system for clients; streamlined document imaging and management; modernized service centers; and online application processing.
The agency is also working with the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange on medical assistance coordination under the Affordable Care Act. In the long-run, a new eligibility management system is on the drawing board to replace DSS's outmoded 1980s-vintage system, with the expected infusion of 90% federal funding.
Governor Malloy and Commissioner Bremby urged DSS clients with internet access at home, at the library, or other public site to try the "MyAccount" feature at www.connect.ct.gov. A link to the service can also be found by visiting the main DSS website at www.ct.gov/dss.
"Clients who go online to set up benefit accounts will find a wealth of information at their fingertips," Commissioner Bremby said. "It will save you time, and it will help our staff focus on the critical work of processing applications and renewals."