This training isn't for caseworkers, but for the help desk staff who answer questions from caseworkers and other staff about problems they find with the eligibility program. Testing was offered slots in the class, so me and a coworker both signed up, and it's been deeply fascinating. Policy is fascinating, no lie; I had no idea there were so many kinds of burial resources, and not kidding, that section on resources was insane.
MEPD, in case anyone is curious, is Medicaid for the aged and disabled. Usually people think nursing homes (institutionalization), but that's only one type: among them are MSP (Medicare Share program) which pays the monthly premium on Medicares Part A and/or Part B, CAD, which is a program that gives home health care to clients if they don't qualify for MSP and the function of which is to delay or prevent institutionalization of clients but instead let them stay in their homes, CBA, all the SSI's, and several community based programs. Generally, nursing home care is the care of last resort if possible; the goal is to make it easier for clients to remain in their own homes. Interesting note: the elderly, even the very elderly, do much better at home than nursing homes, even very nice ones, and a lot of programs are geared to extend their time at home as much as humanly possible.
This is where I do my random reminder that if you live in Texas and want a job that I guarantee you will change lives every day you go to work and help people for whom you will be sometimes their last resort, consider applying for a Medicaid Eligibility Specialist or Texas Works Advisor position with HHSC.
Openings are here.
Generally, a college degree isn't necessary until you get to the higher manager and directorships. Starting with a clerical position can and will get you a heads-up within six months to caseworker (also, clerk is fun, no lie), and Worker III, which is just below supervisor, can be done in as little as two years and supervisor in three. And inter-agency hiring is legion; from there, there's pretty much an entire world of jobs with the state to make at least this part of the world a little better. Many jobs with HHSC prefer or require caseworker/eligibility specialist experience.
Training is two to three months; you go to class, eight hours a day, five days a week, where workers and specialists are guided through policy by trainers who were once caseworkers themselves--you don't memorize it, promise, we're not that cruel--and how to use the eligibility programs. By the time you're done with training, you will be able to take a pencil and a worksheet and calculate benefits for any program you've been trained in within ten minutes. Within one month on the job, you can read an application and know before you even start if they're likely to qualify and what they qualify for. I trained 10 years ago; I can still do it on a glance, though I need the income limits charts somewhere nearby. After one week of MEPD training, I can do it for CAS, MSP, and several of the waiver and post-SSI programs, though without the full two months, I wouldn't since it's slightly more complicated than that.
It's not a hard job, but it's one you have to learn. You'll be taught not only policy and how to use the programs we use to determine eligibility, but how to interview, how to look up and access information, what kind of questions to ask, and most importantly, the first thing I learned: my job is to approve people for benefits and get them the help they need. My training was to make sure I could do that the best I could.
After training, you'll be assigned to an office where you'll be given--and this will drive you crazy--two (or four) cases a day for two weeks, after which you go up to three or four (or six) for two weeks, and so on until you get to what's considered a full load. If you're like me, you'll start sneaking up to the front desk and stealing walk-ins within two days and secretly working them while your supervisor sighs and pretends not to notice. If you're in a call center, your supervisor won't ask questions; we're that overloaded.
Throughout your time on the job, you will be send to periodic training for changes in policy, in budgeting, federal law, et al.
We have high turnover; the caseload can be ridiculous, and working with the poor, the disabled, and the elderly can be difficult when you can't get them the help you know they need. However, this job is one of those I can say with certainty that you being there will assure more people get benefits the first time they apply. People get overloaded, there's too much to do and too little time to get it done; that's a problem. More people doing the job--you doing it--means that many more people get their benefits faster.
A lot of jobs will say you will be helping people. This one, you will literally be watching it happen as you do it. My caseload was between 10 and 18 people each day with an extra thirty or forty children's Medicaid I'd certify each month; during Katrina, I saw more than that. My approvals outnumbered my denials by a huge margin; every day, the world was made better by ten to eighteen people getting what they needed to live their lives.
That's 2,400 to 4,300 people a year whose lives you could be changing. You want to change the world, this is a very good way to start doing it.
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