TULSA, Okla. — The first of the month is approaching fast and many Oklahoman’s need to renew things like their SNAP benefits and SoonerCare but some are encountering a problem.
Some Oklahoman’s are reporting long hold times to get through to an OKDHS representative and many say they haven’t gotten through at all.
Paul Varvel called the Problem Solvers complaining about the issues.
“And I kept calling and calling and calling. All I get is a recording. So, this was like three days in a row,” Varvel said.
Jane Richards also called the Problem Solvers about the phone line.
“And I tried to call and I couldn’t get a hold of them,” Richards said.
The pandemic has prevented both of them from going to an office in person and neither one of them have access to a computer to go online.
“I'm computer illiterate," Varvel said. "I have no idea how to operate a computer or anything."
“I’m retired living on Social Security, and I don't think I should have to pay for computers to communicate with people,” Richards said.
Casey White with OKDHS said the phone lines have been inundated with new callers.
“I do know that we have, we have record numbers of people applying for services," White said. "So, I'm sure that there is some sort of a wait just because we have so many people who are applying for services.”
According to the data, in 2019, OKDHS issued SNAP benefits to 378,417 Oklahoma families.
In 2020, OKDHS issued SNAP benefits to 389,332 Oklahoma families, an increase of 10,915 families.
The good news is that OKDHS is looking into Richard’s issue and hope to be able to work it out.
As for Varvel, his issue was fixed just a few hours after calling the Problem Solvers.
“Yeah, well I got my benefits approved for another year, and I'm good to go," Varvel said. "So, that's about all I've got to say it's just a big weight lifted off my shoulders. So, it's really tremendous I think what you have, the service that you guys provide with your channel 2 help-line.”
The Problem Solvers requested the phone call data from OKDHS and this is what we received:
Data regarding average wait times to the Adult and Family Services Benefits Line
Average number of agents logged into benefits system: 40
Total calls: 57,288
Average wait time: 7 minutes 57 seconds
Average length of call: 5 minutes 29 seconds
Calls where customer disconnected before call could be answered: 41,801
Average time before customer abandoned call: 4 minutes 22 seconds
Average number of agents logged into benefits system: 30
Total calls to date: 14,378
Average wait time: 5 minutes 12 seconds
Average length of call: 8 minutes 32 seconds
Calls where customer disconnected before call could be answered, to date: 7,964
Average time before customer abandoned call: 4 minutes 10 seconds
Data regarding SNAP participation since the beginning of the pandemic: