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No, we aren't there yet!
Old 06-06-2019, 02:49 AM
Slave to the Phone Slave to the Phone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,355
Default No, we aren't there yet!

Applying for government assistance is a process and usually involves waiting in line and rather lengthy application interview.

Many of our clients are patient and understand that they will be spending at least half a day to apply, but there are some who are not. For the most part, they don't work and don't have anything else to do, but they are far too special to waste their time getting their food stamps/cash/medical processed.

Some of the specialist ones will get impatient after 10 minutes and start asking other workers to check on us and see how much longer it will be. This tends to annoy me, so after someone interrupts me while I am working on the case, i will call my client back, explain that I was interrupted and forgot some details, so we need to go over it again to be sure that i get it right. We then spend 5-10 minutes going over the details again before i restart work. (I haven't really forgotten anything, I am just annoyed enough to be petty.)

Some people figure it out, most don't.

Today, I had someone do this to me FOUR times and then complain to the office manager that she needed a new worker because I was taking too long. It took the office manager almost 20 minutes trying to get the client to understand that yes, being interrupted while working can make someone lose their train of thought and need to refresh their memory about dates and details.

Of course, I wasn't doing anything during this time but standing around in plain sight (well, quietly chatting with co-workers, but in plain sight) waiting to know what I was going to do.

When the client finally seemed to understand that people who worked needed to be able to maintain their focus without interruptions because these can cost time, it was agreed that I would finish up. Time now...2 hours 20 minutes. Normal time for a case like her's would be about 45 minutes.

So, I went back to my desk, called her and said "I'm sorry, that rather lengthy interruption made me forget what you said about X, Y and Z. Can we go over that again?".

For some reason, this caused her to throw the phone receiver at the floor and run out the door screaming very rude words.

Shame her interview wasn't completed, she's going to have to start all over when she comes back.

Old 06-06-2019, 12:30 PM
YamiNoHime's Avatar
YamiNoHime YamiNoHime is offline
Front End Supervisor
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 182

That's awesome. My husband used to do Welfare Fraud Investigations for NYC. Ticking off the Special Snowflakes is still one of his hobbies

Old 06-06-2019, 03:50 PM
Pixelated Pixelated is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Bookholm
Posts: 2,146

I've had to go through this process a few times. I always brought along a book. Or two.
Customer service: More efficient than a Dementor's kiss
~ Mr Hero

Old 06-06-2019, 09:15 PM
Slave to the Phone Slave to the Phone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,355

See, Pixelated, you do it right. Expect to be there all day, then be happily surprised when you only spend a couple of hours. Your worker doesn't like the long wait times either, but until the government is willing to pay for more buildings and staff to speed things up for everyone, nothing will change.

I don't know about other states, but we are timed on our cases. We WANT to get you out as quickly as possible. If you do it my way, I will have you out in less than 40 minutes. (my way: bring your pay stubs, answer the questions when asked, and don't bother trying to lie to me. I'm with the government, we know everything!)

Due to the fact that I know that I am the fastest worker in our region*, I am also aware that a couple of 2-3 hour cases in a week won't break my numbers. I can afford to mess with a Special Snowflake because I am annoyed. I can also afford to spend extra time explaining the whole process to nice, new clients because the whole process can be a little overwhelming.

My sups don't condone me pushing buttons on anyone, but if a sup doesn't see/hear it, it didn't happen, right?

My co-workers know exactly what I'm doing, though. They admire my ability to be a calm, polite and even "helpful" stone cold bitch.

*I know this because my sup has told me on several occasions. Sometimes I go to other offices to help out and the sups there are always pleased that I was sent because they have heard about my numbers. (They usually always have someone sit with me so that person can observe and learn. This slows me down a little, because I'm explaining what I'm doing, but it also helps because now I have my very own slave to run off and make copies, do scanning, fetch coffee, etc.)

Last edited by Slave to the Phone; 06-07-2019 at 11:45 PM.

Old 06-07-2019, 11:44 PM
Slave to the Phone Slave to the Phone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,355

Update: The above referenced client came back today. I didn't get her, a co-worker did.

Said co-worker came to me and asked why I hadn't finished her case because according to my amazing notes, I had everything I needed to complete the case.

(Something that many of our clients don't seem to get is that us workers spend all day together. We talk to each other. We pretend to like each other. We are all very protective of each other, even if that person is someone we secretly hate.)

When I told my co-worker that she was the one who broke our phone and why, suddenly my co-worker no longer trusted my notes and had to rework the entire case, which took about an hour.

Old 06-09-2019, 09:44 AM
Kittykat's Avatar
Kittykat Kittykat is offline
Front End Supervisor
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 227

I don't see how this is funny? I'm sorry but you're deliberately sabotaging people's cases. I understand they can drive you nuts, but you chose that line of work. If I were your boss, you'd be fired and blackballed.

Old 06-09-2019, 02:11 PM
judecat judecat is offline
Front End Supervisor
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 104

Quoth Kittykat View Post
I don't see how this is funny? I'm sorry but you're deliberately sabotaging people's cases. I understand they can drive you nuts, but you chose that line of work. If I were your boss, you'd be fired and blackballed.
What's your definition of sabotage -- no one is denying the person benefits, no one is planting false information, sounds to me that the client is in danger of sabotaging her own case, fussing and distracting the worker, who could very well make a mistake (not on purpose) which would cause the case to be denied. Processing the case takes as long as it takes. But since renewal applications go out 45-60 days before the benefits end, and since, except for possibly emergency food stamps, you aren't getting benefits the same day, there is no real reason to be 'special snowflake". Even the best caseworker can make mistakes when they are rushed, or if they don't have the proper paperwork. I've been on both sides of that desk, so I know not to harass the caseworker -- it's just gonna make them want to put my application on the bottom of the pile (which was actually the official policy for a certain program, in a certain state, during a certain period of time. In my county, there is no reason to stay after the "interview", so we just have to wait until they call our name, have the "interview" and leave. Why would I hang around distracting the worker, she might miss the fact that I don't have my $134 Medicare premium deducted from my check, so my net and gross are the same amounts. Wouldn't want her to be in a hurry and mistakenly add it back in, and make me not eligible for my food stamps.

Old 06-09-2019, 05:30 PM
TheSHAD0W TheSHAD0W is offline
Area Manager
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,345

I have to object also, not really so much that you're punishing the applicant for being impatient and angry, but that you're slowing down the entire process, and making other people wait longer in line while you perform this redundancy. Perhaps a bit is acceptable, but it'd be better for everyone to get him out of your hair and on his way.

Old 06-09-2019, 08:21 PM
Slave to the Phone Slave to the Phone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,355

I can see that I have offended some folks here, and I am sorry for that.

I feel that sabotage is a very harsh word, and totally unjustified. My case accuracy is 100% and has been for over 2 years now. I do not make mistakes, I have NEVER deliberately sabotaged anyone's case.

If I make a mistake, I get a black mark on my record that goes away in a few months. If I keep making mistakes, I will be put on a Personal Improvement Plan and if after that I don't show improvement, I can be fired. Of course, that process takes months if not years and in the mean time, I will still be making mistakes.

What do mistakes do to my clients? Well, they might be denied when they shouldn't have been. They might not get all the benefits they are entitled to. They might get more benefits than they are entitled to, but that mistake will be found and corrected. The overpayment must be repaid, and it doesn't come out of my check. It comes out of the client's benefits or their state income tax return, which can cause a serious hardship.

Mistakes also cause delays in benefits, because the mistake must be corrected before the client gets their benefits.

What does my speed mean? Does it mean I get more money? No, it just means I work more cases. Most workers work 6-8 cases a day. I work 11-14 cases a day. (I make exactly the same as a worker who does 5-6 cases a day and has a case accuracy of 70%) This means I see at least 15 cases a week more than many of my co-workers. More cases worked means more people get the help they need.

Something that many people forget is that food stamp case workers are people too. We don't deserve to be yelled at, called obscene names or constantly interrupted while we are doing very detail oriented work as fast as we can.

TheSHADOW, would you also object if I told you that on Friday, I spent almost 3 hours on a case because the person was new, didn't understand, was frightened and didn't know where else to go for help. I was able to not only get the benefits approved, I helped find temporary housing and got a clothing voucher for them.

I spent 3 times the normal time on this person, that means at least 2 other cases didn't get worked. Should I not have done all that for them? I could have gotten them out in an hour with food stamps, but they still would have been lost, afraid and homeless.

Old 06-09-2019, 10:36 PM
TheSHAD0W TheSHAD0W is offline
Area Manager
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,345

I am not an agent of punishment, I am not going to report you to your superiors. I offered criticism. You should take what I said and consider it, and perhaps factor it into your future performance. That's entirely your decision.
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