Computers can’t replace human diligence

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Mabel called our office because she was worried that the ministry had lost her application for designation as a person with disabilities. She told us that she had dropped the application off in person about two and a half months prior and she still did not have a decision. She said that when she called the ministry she was told that there was no record of her application.

Our investigation questioned whether the ministry had indeed overlooked Mabel’s application and therefore unreasonably delayed the adjudication. To respond to our investigation, the ministry searched through all the hard copy documents that it had received from clients. The search found Mabel’s completed application package.

It turned out that after Mabel dropped off her application it was not attached to her electronic file as it should have been. Because Mabel’s electronic file did not indicate her application was ready, it was not sent for adjudication.

Once the ministry found Mabel’s completed application package, it promptly reviewed her application and made a decision to approve it. This decision meant that Mabel was eligible for disability assistance as well as various health supplements. Had the ministry adjudicated Mabel’s application according to its regular processing times, it would have completed the adjudication one month earlier. The ministry backdated its approval to the date it should have adjudicated it and paid her the assistance she had missed receiving. [See Special Report No. 35, Time Matters.]

To ensure that similar problems did not occur in the future, the ministry instructed staff to take steps to ensure that each application is properly attached to the applicant’s electronic file.

As a result of Mabel coming to us, we were able to both get her the assistance she was entitled to and help the ministry avoid such problems in the future.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2014
Location The Lower Mainland