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Chatham residents can check eligibility and apply for some social services online

Posted Thursday, November 25, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - The Chatham County Department of Social Services alerts residents to a new website service,, to check their potential eligibility for state benefits and services, such as food assistance, Work First, emergency assistance and home heating or cooling needs. If qualified, residents can apply for some services online through ePASS.

ePASS is a new tool offered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to allow residents easier access to benefits and services from their households or other locations with internet access.

“This is an important new service that will help those who have difficulty coming to the Department of Social Services offices in Pittsboro due to lack of transportation or other issues,” said Sandy Coletta, director of Chatham County’s Department of Social Services. “It also offers the chance to consider these options in private, which is a major benefit of ePASS.”

Coletta said that the first step is for residents to provide household and personal information to see if they might qualify for benefits,” “Doing this online can prevent people from making a long trip to our office to find out that they don’t qualify for the service they want.”

Coletta cautions that the website does not currently offer an assessment of eligibility for all programs. “For example, Medicaid, NC Health Choice (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and child care subsidies are not part of ePASS at this time.”

She further emphasized that ePASS is a pre-assessment service, not a final determination of eligibility. “Our staff is still responsible for reviewing applications to make sure that all mandated eligibility requirements are met.”

The website also helps residents evaluate whether or not they want to apply for services or benefits. “These programs are not the best options for everyone, so it helps people think through the pros and cons of their situation.”

ePASS is still in the process of being developed so some services currently are limited to a partial “quick” assessment of eligibility, while a full assessment is available for food assistance (formerly called “food stamps”) and emergency assistance. Emergency assistance provides short-term funds for crisis situations, such as avoiding eviction, loss of home or utility shut-off.

Those with questions or comments about ePASS may call 1-888-622-7328 toll-free.

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Chatham residents can check eligibility and apply for some social services online

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