MDHHS transforms application process

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has debuted a more user-friendly application for public assistance that is more comprehensive and less than half the size of the previous form.

The streamlined application for food assistance, Medicaid, and other benefits now has 18 pages – down from 42 pages in the previous application that was the lengthiest in the United States. It has 80 percent fewer words – with 3,904 – and 80 percent fewer questions – with 213.

The MDHHS Project Re:form resulted in the improved application, which is easier to navigate due to an updated design that includes the use of colors and improved headings and organization. The Detroit design studio Civilla worked with MDHHS and based the improvements on input from MDHHS clients and staff who tested and led the application redesign effort.

“As our staff experience significant reductions in time spent reviewing and correcting application forms that had become too complicated, they will be able to better assist our clients in removing barriers to self-sufficiency and finding jobs to support their families,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon. “Clients will find it is easier to receive the help that they need.”

MDHHS piloted the new application in 2017 in its Hamtramck office in Wayne County and in its office in Eaton County. Civilla monitored the pilot and engaged nearly 400 clients and numerous staff members in conversations about how to improve the form.

As a result, clients in the pilot counties spent an average of 20 minutes completing the application, compared to 45 minutes for the previous application. Staff spent 20 minutes less time reviewing each application, seeking additional information and making corrections.

MDHHS began using the new application statewide Jan. 22. It combines into a single form application for food assistance, Medicaid, cash assistance, State Emergency Relief, and child care assistance.

The new Assistance Application form can be found on the MDHHS website. It is available to applicants for public assistance benefits at local MDHHS offices. Michigan residents also can apply for assistance online at www.michigan.gov/mibridges.