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Soc Work Public Health. 2012;27(5):424-40. doi: 10.1080/19371910903182849.

Electronic access to food and cash benefits.

Author information

  • 1Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan 48859, USA.


The authors' purpose was to examine access to Family Independence Program and Food benefits in relation to customer service and an automated helpline. In addition, participants identified impediments and limitations to the receipt of services. Two hundred forty-four surveys were mailed to recipients of over-the-counter electronic benefit transfer cards; 58 were returned. The findings indicate that when customers (age 21-92) received assistance navigating the electronic benefits transfer system from local office staff, they were able to obtain benefits successfully. Negative credit/debit card history and touchtone phones were related to difficulty using the system. The results suggest that the local office and the contracted service provider (automatic helpline) need to provide assistance that promotes greater autonomy for the customer to make successful transitions to benefits that are delivered electronically.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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