Enrolling in benefits should lead to relief, not additional burdens.
However, some agencies are finding innovative ways to improve these processes, including using human-centered design to cut down on application length, implementing plain language and multilingual translation of application questions, and integrating enrollment across benefits. These practices not only reduce burdens for both applicants and agencies, but they can also increase uptake. Here, find resources including human-centered redesign case studies and guidance on training your agency staff to take on these kinds of projects.
Opportunities to Streamline Enrollment Across Public Benefit Programs
Data-sharing across public benefits programs can help enroll low-income people into other benefits for which they qualify. This guide helps local policymakers and program officials identify opportunities under federal law to streamline the application and enrollment process.
Social Listening: Covid-19, Social Media, and The Path to a Better Safety Net
The Aspen Financial Security Program identified five reoccurring trends of social media platform usage by people in relation to safety net programs and four techniques for capturing people’s experiences in order to reform the safety net. This report describes how the government can use widespread social media feedback and begin to build long-term measures to center people’s experience as an important component of policy design
Healing Policy Papercuts: Aligning small conflicts in application requirements makes public benefits easier to access
Integrating eligibility and enrollment benefits is an increasingly important undertaking for state governments around the country. However, states already in the process of integrating benefits are encountering an issue: differing and contradictory submission requirements dictated by the federal agencies running these benefits programs. Aligning these fragmented requirements is necessary to build a truly human-centered process for state benefits programs.
Project Re:form — Redesigning Michigan's Assistance Application
Michigan had the longest public benefits application in the country. The application was fragmented across five different benefits programs and contained 64 pages, 1,000 overlapping questions, and convoluted language. These complications burdened Michigan residents and forced agency officials to waste valuable time correcting errors.
Vermont: Piloting A Document Uploader For Benefit Eligibility
To verify their eligibility for public assistance, low-income Vermont residents were forced to either physically visit one of only 12 Economic Services Division Offices or use the mail to submit documents. This delayed the application process and hindered residents' ability to access benefits.
MIBridges: Making Online Benefit Websites Work More Effectively
Millions of Michigan residents receive public assistance through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Half of them tried to apply for and access these benefits online. However, the existing application was not mobile-friendly and it required more than 45 minutes to complete. This created delays and frustrating experiences for residents and agency staff.