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Welfare recipients frustrated over long delays

Welfare recipients frustrated over long delays

By Victoria Spilabotte. CREATED Aug 20, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The line at the welfare office is dozens deep and if people aren't lined up here, chances are they're calling on the phone for their benefits.

"If you call in on the phone -- good luck. You wait all day," Chris Kemp said. "If you're lucky enough to not get a busy signal you'll be waiting on the phone two hours." 

Extra long wait times -- that's exactly why one Action News viewer emailed us. She said it took her three hours to get someone on the phone at the welfare office.

Action News decided to see how long it took us to get through. After getting multiple busy signals, the automated system picks up.

It said the estimated wait time was 21 minutes. After watching the minutes go by, a case worker answered the phone after 24 minutes.

Action News found the average wait time is about 17 minutes. Welfare officials said more people are applying for benefits and the phone system is overloaded.

"It's frustrating because I know that when I call somewhere I don't want to be on hold for five minutes let alone 20 minutes," Social Service Manager, Rachelle Church, said.  

Welfare officials get over 350,000 calls per month on a phone system they said is outdated.

"Could we use an updated system and additional staff to accommodate the needs of the community -- absolutely," Church said. 

Action News didn't wait on the phone as long as some people, but the welfare office said in July the longest wait time was 1 hour and 11 minutes.

Action News found out that the office may ask for a new phone system and extra staff in the budget for next year.

Welfare officials said avoid calling the office the first week of the month -- that's the busiest time.