ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp decided to spend up to $1.2 billion on payments of $350 apiece to poorer Georgians back in August, but since then, 11Alive has received thousands of comments about issues people are having with getting their money from the state.
We dug into the issues and got responses from the Georgia Department of Human Services.
The state said the ongoing issues with people enrolled in certain social benefit programs has been resolved, but we found out that's not the case for many people who are relying on the money to make ends meet.
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All Wade Bell wants is a fresh salad, but he has an almost bare fridge instead. One worry is Bell may need surgery on his hip and has applied for disability.
“It's been kind of taxing on me emotionally because it's like a lot of things coming all at once," Bell said. “It's kind of rough because I'm at this point in my life, I'm 34, and I’m in need of a little bit of need of assistance."
He applied for food stamps, which he's still waiting for, and then hoped to get the $350 cash assistance. He said there was no confirmation.
Then Bell tried calling DHS but said he never got a call back.
“I made about, I would say, three or four calls left messages each time," Bell said. "I would say maybe the third time they sent that text message.”
Danielle Carr is also waiting for her $350 payment and checks her status on the Georgia Gateway portal every day.
“It is just bureaucracy. That's all it is," Danielle Carr said. “It's as though it's that the status has stuck."
Carr said she tried calling DHS, but is simply having no luck.
“You can't get in touch with a human being," Carr said. "They just send you back and forth, back and forth. It's been pretty frustrating."
11Alive reached out to DHS with some of your common questions and got answers.
The first complaint is not receiving the card.
“Plastic cards are being mailed out to customers who have opted to receive U.S. mail only communications. Customers who opted to receive email only or U.S. mail only communications should have received a virtual card by email. Customers who cannot locate the email should check their junk folders and deleted emails. If they still cannot locate the email, they should call 1-833-907-0683.”
The second issue is suspended cards. DHS responded:
“Due to suspicious activity and out of an abundance of caution, cards may be temporarily suspended or locked. Customers can unlock their cards by logging in to the Cash Assistance Program portal or by calling our card-specific hotline.”
Another question we got from viewers is which stores the cards can be used at.
"The virtual card can be used online or in store anywhere Mastercard debit cards are accepted in the U.S. Some merchants’ in-store locations do not allow virtual card payments, but cardholders may be able to Buy Online and Pick-up in Store, according to their availability," DHS said. "The plastic card can be used online or in store anywhere Mastercard debit cards are accepted in the U.S."
Bell patiently waits for his payment knowing it'll take some of the burden off his shoulders.
“I did reach out to you guys, 11Alive, and I got a response back and that really helped kind of ease some of that knowing someone's out there listening," Bell said.