Gov. Ricketts Announces Accelerated Eligibility for Developmental Disabilities Services
Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970
Julie Naughton, DHHS, 402-471-1695
Timeframe to determine eligibility slashed by nearly 80 percent.
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that the state has slashed the wait time necessary to determine eligibility for the state’s developmental disability services from 69 days to an average of 14 days, a nearly 80 percent reduction. The agency has sustained the accelerated rate throughout the fall since the application was launched in August.
“Health and Human Services is improving results by accelerating the eligibility process for Nebraskans who need developmental disability services,” said Governor Ricketts. “By making this application process more effective and efficient, DHHS is able to spend more time focused on its core mission of helping people build better lives. Thanks to all the partners who worked together to streamline the process and make it simpler and easier for Nebraskans in need to utilize.”
DHHS identified reducing the length of the application process as a priority for improvement, and began working in partnership with families, individuals, and advocacy groups in a customer-focused approach to create efficiencies that include:
- Online Resources: Adding information about Developmental Disability services to the ACCESSNebraska website, so customers and potential customers can access information at any time of the day or night about eligibility requirements and other available services at any time.
- Leveraging Technology: Adding the application to the ACCESSNebraska website. With this change, clients focus on a more targeted list of needed documents.
- Less Paperwork: Simplifying and streamlining the application from 14 pages to 3.
Previously the application needed to be printed and signed as well as mailed, emailed, or faxed. Now the department offers an interactive application that can be submitted online through ACCESSNebraska.
“The interactive upgrade includes the ability to provide an electronic signature, eliminating the need to physically sign and mail or scan the application, further reducing the number of days needed to provide eligibility determinations,” said DHHS Developmental Disabilities Director Courtney Miller.
“Prior to the new process, individuals and their families often had difficulty completing the application,” said Miller. “And because expectations were not clear, they frequently mailed hundreds of pages of documentation in excess of what was needed at substantial cost to them. These changes are making it easier and faster to apply for services to help people live better lives.”
Improved service is already receiving positive reviews from stakeholders and advocates.
“Service eligibility, as the gatekeeper for receipt of services, is fundamental for individuals and families who experience a developmental disability,” said Brad Meurrens, public policy director for Disability Rights Nebraska, a civil rights organization for people with disabilities which has offices in Lincoln and Scottsbluff. “Services are critical for individuals and families to thrive and maximize their quality of life as well as their individual potential. DHHS’s work to expedite service eligibility determination is laudable as they play a central role to help assure individuals and families who need these services can receive them in a timelier manner.”