The Welfare Electronic Application System, the electronic application for governmental aid, will be disabled between Sept. 21 and Sept. 30.

The system will be disabled so it can be updated to comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Those applying for public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; or Nevada Medicaid, can still apply during this time but must use paper applications.

Paper applications will still be available at welfare offices and can still be downloaded from the division’s website.

Miki Allard, a staff specialist in the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, said there is almost no difference in processing time between paper and electronic applications.
The disruption in service will mostly be felt in urban areas, Allard said.

“It’s a real, real benefit in the high volume areas, but I’m guessing that in Hawthorne, because the paper application is available to be downloaded from a computer, I don’t think it’s going to have a real impact on anybody [in Hawthorne],” Allard said.

Allard said the state receives about 250 applications a day statewide. She said the data isn’t broken down in a way that allows her to say how many of those applications come from Mineral County.

“While we know this will be an inconvenience for those who are accustomed to using the on-line process to apply for benefits, we are very excited about the improvements that will be made to the system during the temporary removal of the on-line application process,” said Mike McMahon, Administrator of the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. “Nevada will be among the first states to help bridge the gap that exists in our current health care delivery model, and thank Governor Sandoval for his leadership in this process.”

McMahon made his comments in a news release about the closure.

Allard said she doesn’t expect the user experience to change much when the system comes back online—the application will look exactly the same, and everything will be in the same place.

The system will, however, be programmed with the new Medicaid regulations.

The new regulations, which will come into effect in January, allow people between the ages of 19- and 64-years-old without children to qualify for Medicaid.

Until the new regulations come into effect, Nevadans only qualify for Medicaid if they meet certain requirements, such as also qualifying for Medicare, or receiving Social Security Disability funds for two years.

The latter regulation created a gap for many Nevadans when they are first disabled, disenfranchising them, Allard said.

“Those are people that have really fallen through the cracks over the years, and it’s been real heartbreaking that they didn’t have any options for healthcare,” she said.