Nineteen central Indiana counties will gain access to online filing and other automated intake for welfare benefits later this month.
The automation, which also includes call centers and document imaging options for applying for food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits, will expand to the counties on Oct. 24, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said.
Such an expansion would leave Marion County, with Indianapolis, as the only county without access to the automation.
FSSA Secretary Michael Gargano told lawmakers in August that more than half of new welfare applications were being filed online.
Applicants still will have access to case workers in county welfare offices.
FSSA received federal approval for the expansion on Oct. 7.
The 19 counties receiving the automation are Tippecanoe, Montgomery, Clinton, Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Morgan, Johnson, Wayne, Henry, Hancock, Shelby, Rush, Fayette, Union, Brown, Bartholomew, Decatur and Franklin. Welfare applicants in those counties have had face-to-face filing at welfare offices as their only option while the FSSA has rolled out the automation regionally over the past four years.
Initial problems with the automation led Gov. Mitch Daniels to fire IBM Corp. as the lead contractor on the project two years ago. The FSSA then revamped the system to add more face-to-face contact with caseworkers and has rolled that out regionally since early 2010.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM and the FSSA now are suing each other in an Indianapolis court over the canceled contract.