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Frequently Asked Questions

Food and Nutrition Services

What should I do if I am unable to get to one of the offices to apply?

If you are unable to come into the office, you can appoint someone you trust to represent you in the office or an application can be taken over the phone or by a home visit.  You can also download an application and mail it in.

When will my benefits go into my account?

Your benefits will be available after 6:00 a.m. on the same day each month according to the last digit of the head of household's Social Security Number, even if that day is on a weekend or a holiday. 

I have received my EBT card.  How can I get it activated?

You can call customer service at 1-888-622-7328.  A recorded message with instructions will ask you to enter the card number, then your social security number then 4 digits to be used as your pin number (your choice).  At this time, the procedure for individuals without a social security number is to use their birthdate. It is recommended that at least temporarily, those without socials should come in and activate the card in the DSS office.

If you have additional questions or problems, just bring your EBT card and some form of identification (a picture I.D. is preferred) to our office.  You will receive training on how to use your EBT card and you must have a personal identification number (PIN) to activate your card.  After your training class we will assist you in activating your card.

What is the EBT customer service number?

The toll free number is 1-888-622-7328 and they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When will my application be completed?

Emergency benefits must be completed within 7 days from your date of application. Applications that do not meet emergency criteria must be completed within 30 days from your date of application.

When will I receive my EBT card?

EBT cards should be received within 3-5 days after your Food Stamp case is completed.

What do I do if I have a change in my situation?

Your caseworker will review what changes are required to be reported when you apply.

Will I receive a new EBT card each month?

No. You use the same card each month. If your benefits terminate, you should keep your card. If you reapply, you may have your benefits deposited into the old EBT account. Be sure to let your caseworker know that you still have an EBT card. You can even keep your same pin number.

What happens if I use the wrong pin number when I am shopping?

If you try to use the wrong pin number 4 times in a row your EBT card will not work anymore that day. You will have to wait until after 12:01am the next day to try again.

How can I check my balance on my EBT card?

Call the customer service line at 1-888-622-7328. The number can be located on the back of your card. Any remaining balance at the end of the month is rolled over into the next month.

Why didnt I get the full benefits for the month I applied initially?

Benefits are prorated for the month of application based on your date of application. For example, if you apply on 12/8/02, you would receive benefits from 12/8/02 through 12/31/02 if eligible.

How is the amount of my benefit determined?

The amount of Food and Nutrition benefits you may receive are determined by the number of people in the household, the amount of income received by the people in the household, the households shelter expenses and the amount of medical expenses you have to pay that are not reimbursed (persons 60 or older or disabled

 

 

 

 

Low Income Energy Assistance Program

When are applications taken for LIEAP?

Normally applications are taken the first two weeks in November of each year.

When are the LIEAP checks sent out?

LIEAP checks are mailed the first week of February each year.

Why was I denied a LIEAP check? / Is my name on the list to receive a LIEAP check this year?

For any questions on LIEAP eligibility, call the Orange County Department of Social Services at 919-245-2800.

 

 

 

 

                Family and Children's Medicaid

What does Medicaid cover?

If you are eligible for Medicaid, you will receive a Consumers Guide to North Carolina Medicaid Programs, which contains listings of covered services. This list is not all-inclusive and does change. For more accurate information, ask your medical provider or pharmacist or call the CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030. Additional information concerning Medicaid is available here.

Why is one of my children eligible for Medicaid but the other isn't?

Medicaid is determined by comparing countable income to an income level for the number in the family. The income levels are different based on the childs age. Depending on each childs countable income and age, the children could be in different income levels.

How do I let my doctor know that I have Medicaid?

When you are approved for Medicaid, you will receive a Medicaid ID card each month in the mail. You must take your current card with you each time you go to the doctor, hospital, pharmacy, or any other medical provider. Your Medicaid card is proof that you have coverage. It is very important to keep up with your Medicaid card! It works just like a health insurance card. If you do not show your card to the medical provider, they will not know Medicaid covers you and you may become responsible for paying the full cost of the medical bill or prescription.

What do I do if I lose my Medicaid card?

You may notify your caseworker if you lose your Medicaid card and request a replacement card. However, the replacement card will not have the pharmacy stub attached (adults only). Your Medicaid card is your proof that you have coverage. It is very important to keep up with your Medicaid card!

How long can I receive Medicaid after I am approved?

You may receive Medicaid as long as you continue to meet the requirements. Your caseworker will review your situation every 6 to 12 months depending on what type of Medicaid you receive. You must report all changes in situation to your caseworker within 10 days.

 

 

 

 

Health Choice

What does North Carolina Health Choice cover?

If you are eligible for North Carolina Health Choice, you will receive a Health Choice of Children Handbook, which contains listing of covered services. This list is not all-inclusive and does change. For more accurate information, ask your medical provider or pharmacist or call the Customer Services at 1-800-422-4658.

How do I let my doctor know that I have North Carolina Health Choice?

When you are approved for North Carolina Health Choice, you will receive one Identification (ID) card in the mail. You must always show your ID card each time you go to the doctor, hospital, pharmacy or any other medical provider. Your ID card is proof that you have coverage. It is very important to keep up with your ID card! It is your health insurance card. If you do not show your card to the medical provider, they will not know you are covered by NCHC and you may become responsible for paying the full cost of the medical bill or prescription. Each child covered by NCHC receives his or her own ID card.

What do I do if I lose my childs North Carolina Health Choice ID card?

In the event you lose your childs North Carolina Health Choice ID card, you must call Customer Services at 1-800-422-4658 to request another one. The Department of Social Services cannot replace a NCHC ID card.

How long can I receive North Carolina Health Choice after I am approved?

You may receive NCHC as long as you continue to meet the requirements. Your caseworker will review your situation 12 months.  You must report all changes in situation to your caseworker within 10 days. You cannot receive North Carolina Health Choice if you begin receiving coverage through another health insurance program.

 

 

 

Adult Medicaid

What does Medicaid cover?

If you are eligible for Medicaid, you will receive a Consumers Guide to North Carolina Medicaid Programs, which contains listings of covered services. This list is not all-inclusive and does change. For more accurate information, ask your medical provider or pharmacist or call the CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030. Information concerning covered services is also available on the Internet.

How do I let my doctor know that I have Medicaid?

When you are approved for Medicaid, you will receive a Medicaid ID card each month in the mail. You must take your current card with you each time you go to the doctor, hospital, pharmacy, or any other medical provider. Your Medicaid card is proof that you have coverage. It is very important to keep up with your Medicaid card! It works just like a health insurance card. If you do not show your card to the medical provider, they will not know Medicaid covers you and you may become responsible for paying the full cost of the medical bill or prescription.

What do I do if I lose my Medicaid card?

You may notify your caseworker if you lose your Medicaid card and request a replacement card. However, the replacement card will not have the pharmacy stub attached (adults only). Your Medicaid card is your proof that you have coverage. It is very important to keep up with your Medicaid card!

How long can I receive Medicaid after I am approved?

You may receive Medicaid as long as you continue to meet the requirements. Your caseworker will review your situation every 6 to 12 months depending on what type of Medicaid you receive. You must report all changes in situation to your caseworker within 10 days.

What is the definition of a disability?

As defined by Social Security, it is a physical or mental impairment that prevents an individual from engaging in any substantial, gainful activity, and which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or is expected to result in death.  To apply for disability benefits, you must apply through the Social Security Administration offices, 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

How can I get a new Medicaid card?

New Medicaid cards are mailed to recipients at the beginning of each month.  It may take up to the first 10 business days of the month to receive your card.  If you do not receive your card when needed or if you misplace your card, contact your Medicaid worker regarding a replacement card.

What is Carolina Access?

Carolina Access is a Medicaid managed care program.  As a Medicaid recipient you must participate in this program unless you receive Medicaid as a pregnant woman, a child in foster care, a Community Alternative Program (CAP) participant, or you have Medicare.

Will Medicaid pay for my care in a nursing home?

If you meet eligibility requirements, Medicaid will pay for some portion of your cost of care in a long term skilled or intermediate care facility as well as medical expenses.

Will the state take my home if I get Medicaid?

If you receive CAP or are in a long-term care facility, estate recovery may apply to you.  This means at the time of your death the government may make a claim against your estate to recover the money paid to medical providers on your behalf.

 

 

 

 

Work First

How will DSS help me find a job?

The Orange County Department of Social Services is fortunate to have the Orange County Skills Development/JobLink Center located on the bus route in downtown Chapel Hill to assist clients looking for employment opportunities. This service is available to Work First cash recipients as well as anyone else seeking assistance finding employment. (See Orange County Skills Development Center)

Can I get transportation to look for a job?

There may be a way to obtain transportation to look for a job for a limited time span. To find out more, you must be assessed by a social worker.

Can I get transportation to go back to school?

The Department of Social Services does not provide transportation for the purpose of attending school.

My childrens father doesnt pay child support? Can I receive cash assistance?

Work First cash assistance is not an entitlement program. If interested in cash assistance, apply for Work First and talk with a social worker, who will assess your particular situation.

Is there any type of assistance if I am experiencing a temporary crisis with employment?

The Department of Social Services must offer the Benefit Diversion program. It provides families with one-time cash assistance and up to three months of Medicaid to meet needs that are related to maintaining or accepting employment, or needs that have arisen due to a temporary break in employment. In order to qualify for the Benefit Diversion program, you must apply for Work First and talk with a social worker who will assess your particular situation.

 

 

 

 

Work Permits

I have a work permit for my old job; does it work for my new job too?

No.  Each job requires its own work permit.

Can I sign the bottom of the form before I bring it in?

No.  The form must be signed in the presence of a Department of Social Services employee.  Failure to follow the instructions will require you to fill out a new permit.

Is there a place on the Internet I can get the application?

Yes.  Work Permits may be downloaded from the Department of Labor.

 

 

 

 

         Medicaid Transportation

How far in advance do I need to call about a ride?

Once approved, you will need to schedule a ride two days in advance.

How long will it take after I apply until I can start getting rides to my appointments?

If approved, your case will be opened for service within 10 business days.

Can I get a ride to the store?

No.  Rides can only be given for medically necessary appointments/errands.  In Hillsborough, Orange Public Transportation offers this service to eligible persons, and can be reached by calling 919-245-2008.  Chapel Hill Transit 919-968-2769 runs free buses to various destinations in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  Bus schedules can be found at the Public Library, Town Hall, and on their website

Can I get a ride to the Department of Social Services for my appointments?

No.  Rides can only be given for medically necessary appointments/errands.

Can I get a ride to the pharmacy to fill a prescription?

Yes.

I have trouble getting in and out of some vehicles because of my wheelchair.  Will I still be able to use this service?

Yes.  Just let us know when you schedule your appointment and a van with a chairlift will be sent to get you.

 

 

 

 

Child Protective Services

When should a children's protective services report be made?

Reporting child abuse or neglect is the first step in protecting a child from further harm, so it should be done as soon as possible.  If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should file a report with your local Department of Social Services.  If it is an emergency, contact your local law enforcement agency.  Your information can be given anonymously, if desired. The law requires that any person who has cause to suspect that a juvenile is being abused or neglected shall make a report to the local department of social services in the county where the juvenile resides or is found. Reports may be made orally, in writing, or in person. The person who makes the report is immune from criminal or legal liability if the report was made in good faith. The alleged victim child and their family should reside in Orange County in order for us to intervene with the provision of protective services. Local County DSS Departments can accept reports on non-residents, however these reports must be forwarded to the appropriate county of jurisdiction.  These reports should involve a child under the age of eighteen and a parent or caretaker identified as perpetrator. Reports involving non-caretakers are generally handled solely by law enforcement.

How is child abuse/neglect defined?

When children are abused, they have been seriously hurt, either physically or emotionally.  This may also include any type of sexual abuse.  When children are neglected, they have not received proper care or supervision.  This may include children who do not receive necessary medical attention, who are inadequately fed or clothed, or who are inappropriately disciplined.  Neglect also includes children who are left alone for long periods of time, or are living in a dangerous environment due to substance abuse by their caretakers.

Do you have the right to talk to my children without my permission?

The Orange County Department of Social Services will try to involve the family to the greatest extent possible.  However, the agency does have the right to talk to your child without your permission if deemed necessary.  If any person obstructs or interferes with an investigation, the director may file a petition requesting an order directing the person to cease such obstruction or interference.  Obstruction or interference includes refusing to allow the social worker to interview the child in private if requested.

Who is the reporter?  I have the right to know.

The reporters name remains confidential unless the department is court ordered to release that information.

How do I report that a child is being abused or neglected?

Call Orange County Department of Social Services during normal business hours at 919-968-2000.  After hours, and on weekends and holidays, call 911 and ask for the on-call social worker.