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Ohio Benefits system officially off-line; United Way encouraging families to reach out for help

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Posted at 8:11 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 18:33:09-05

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Benefits system is now off-line.

The outage means local and state agencies have limited access to information about Medicaid benefits or SNAP due to statewide computer upgrades. Services that will remain unavailable include calls through the call center and the ability to look up case and benefit information. Agencies will also not be able to authorize, close or change any cash, food or Medicaid benefits.

But there are resources that can help.

United Way 211 is making sure families aren't left stranded as they remain fully staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

“We will have our staff ready and prepared to give resources for those who are in immediate need of food,” said Michelle Snowden, United Way Manager of Navigation Services 211. “We can give them pantries, hot meals sites and just other resources so they can have food to carry over.”

Though it's not the first time benefits services have been down, the 211 center is usually busy taking calls from families looking for other resources or contact information to get help.

“We become very necessary and that's what we are here for to fill in the gap,” Snowden explained.

While services are limited, Snowden says their team is staying on high alert. She says they are already seeing an increase in housing calls and utility needs this winter.

“It's just really important that people know 211 is here,” she said. “If we do have an increase of calls, especially in a situation like this, we can call in additional staff as needed.”

Paper applications will still be able to be submitted for benefits during the outage. However, paper applications will not be processed until the system's back online.

READ MORE: Ohio Benefits system down for upgrades from Thursday through Monday