MR# 17.13: Electronic Customer Notices, Email and Mobile Phone Text Message Alerts

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

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08/02/17

Summary

  • The Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) are required to send a written notice for most case actions that affect a customer's case status and benefit amount. Currently only two methods of providing a written notice are available, either by mail or by hand delivery to the customer while in the local office. With the implementation of IES Phase 2, two new delivery methods will help to improve customer service through the use of modern technology.
  • This manual release introduces policy changes that allows the use of electronic correspondence for all benefit programs. 
  • Starting with the implementation of Phase 2, IES will automatically issue customers both a "Paper and Electronic" notice. A paper version will be mailed to the customer's home. If the customer opts to create a Manage My Case (MMC) account, they can view a PDF version in their Manage My Case account in ABE.illinois.gov.
  • The customer must first set up their MMC account in ABE to be able to view electronic notices. Form 360c, Notice of Decision includes instructions in the Additional Information Section on how to set up a MMC account. Other customer notices will contain the MMC online link in the Header. Once the account is set up all notices will sync to the customer's MMC account in ABE.
  • In MMC, customers can select the option to receive a "Paper and Electronic" notice or an "Electronic Only" notice. Selecting "Electronic Only"  means they choose not to receive paper notices. A valid email address is necessary to choose "Electronic Only"  so that the customer  can receive an email alert when a notice has posted in their MMC account. A customer can choose to receive notice alerts by "email only" or by "email and text messaging." Federal regulations for SNAP will not allow customers to receive text messages only.  
  • When the customer selects "Electronic Only" new Form 1119, Congratulations on Going Green is sent by regular mail and as an email alert to confirm the customer's request to receive "Electronic Only" notices. A customer may change their delivery preference at any time in ABE. FCRC staff are not responsible for changing the customer's delivery preference.
  • By logging into their MMC account the customer may view an electronic PDF version of a written notice, form or letter related to an action taken on their case, such as a Notice of Decision (Form 360c) or a Notice of Missed Interview (Form 267L). This includes notices related to an appeal.
  • Electronic notices may be viewed the next day following a case action, even if the next day is a weekend or holiday. Twelve months of notices are available through a customer's MMC account.
  • In Data Collection, staff can view the customer's method of communication in the "Household Contact Information" section titled "Notice Method".
  • Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) approved a waiver request to allow SNAP customers to receive electronic notices instead of written paper notices through the mail. The customer must agree to receive electronic notices instead of written paper notices and must opt to receive alerts. Any customer opting to receive alerts by mobile text messaging must also be notified by email. SNAP customers must be given specific notices in response to certain case actions. Federal regulations require specific written notices to be issued to SNAP customers in response to certain case actions. The waiver allows for these notices to be issued electronically to the customer: 
    • Notice of Missed Interview;
    • Notice of Denial;
    • Notice of Required Verifications;
    • Notice of Eligibility;
    • Notice of Expiration;
    • Notice of Request for Contact;
    • Notice of Adverse Action.
  • Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that state agencies must provide individuals with a choice to receive notices regarding medical coverage electronically or by regular mail and must be permitted to change such election. The notices must be posted to the electronic account within 1 business day of the notice generation. If the electronic notice is returned with an undeliverable message the notice must be sent by regular mail within three business days of the failed electronic communication. The Manage My Case (MMC) process in IES, Phase 2, provides the option for electronic notices to those who choose them.
  • Medical cards will be made available via notices in Manage My Case. For customers who do not set up a Manage My Case account, medical cards will be mailed with the notices.  Notices and medical cards cannot be emailed.
  • This manual release contains miscellaneous manual pages inadvertently omitted in a previous release and requires an updating.

  1. Introduction
  2. Paper and Electronic Notices
  3. How do the Alerts Work?
  4. How Can the Customer Opt Out of Receiving Alerts
  5. How will Staff know the Method of Communication?
  6. How will the Customer get a Medical Card?
  7. Miscellaneous Changes
  8. Manual Revisions
  9. Forms Referenced:

Introduction

The Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) are required to send a written notice for most case actions that affect a customer's case status and benefit amount. Currently only two methods of delivering written notices are available, either by mail or by hand delivery to the customer in the local office. 

The implementation of IES Phase 2 provides the Departments with the ability to use modern technology to expand its delivery method of communication and improve customer service.  

This manual release introduces policy changes that allows electronic correspondence along with email and email and mobile text alerts to be used for all benefit programs. 

Paper and Electronic Notices

  • Starting with Phase 2 implementation, IES will automatically issue customers a "Paper and Electronic" notice for all programs.  When a customer sets up their ABE account and navigates to the "Manage Your Communication Preferences" screen the preferred delivery method will automatically default to "Paper and Electronic".  Paper notices will continue to be mailed to the customer's mailing address and an electronic PDF version of the notice will post to the customer's Manage My Case (MMC) account in ABE.
  • The electronic PDF version of a notice is viewable in the customer's MMC account the next day following a case action. This includes when the next day following the case action is a weekend or holiday. The notice will automatically be removed from the MMC account at the appropriate time-frame.
  • A customer may change their preferred choice of delivery at any time.
  • The customer must first set up their MMC account in ABE.illinois.gov to start receiving an electronic notice. Form 360c, Notice of Decision includes instructions in the Additional Information Section on how to set up an online account. Other customer notices will contain the MMC online link in the Header. Once the account is setup, all notices will sync to the customer's MMC account in ABE.

Electronic Only Notice

A customer with a valid email address can opt to "Go Green" by changing their preferred delivery method on the "Manage Your Communication Preferences" screen to "Electronic Only. "When the customer selects "Electronic Only"  in MMC and validates their e-mail address, Congratulations on Going Green (Form 1119), is sent as confirmation via regular mail and e-mail. Form 1119 is a new notice designed specifically for use in IES. Selecting this option allows a customer to opt out of paper notices and only view an electronic PDF version of a written notice, or form related to their specific case in their MMC account, such as Notice of Decision or Notice of Missed Interview. 

Approval of Electronic Notices for SNAP Customers

Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) approved a waiver request that allows the use of electronic means to send a written notice to SNAP customers instead of paper notification. The customer must agree to receive electronic notices instead of written paper notices and must opt to receive alerts. A customer may change their delivery preference at any time in ABE. FCRC staff are not responsible for changing the customer's delivery preference. Customer who do not opt to receive electronic notices will continue to receive paper notices in the mail.

Federal Regulations requires that SNAP customers receive specific written notices in response to certain case actions. The waiver allows for these notices to be issued electronically to the customer: 

  • Notice of Missed Interview;
  • Notice of Denial;
  • Notice of Required Verifications;
  • Notice of Eligibility; 
  • Notice of Expiration;
  • Notice of Request for Contact;
  • Notice of Adverse Acton.

Approval of Electronic Notices for Medical Customers

Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that state agencies must provide individuals with a choice to receive notices regarding medical coverage electronically or by regular mail and must be permitted to change such election. The notices must be posted to the electronic account within 1 business day of the notice generation. If the electronic notice is returned with an undeliverable message the notice must be sent by regular mail within three business days of the failed electronic communication. The Manage My Case (MMC) process in IES, Phase 2, provides the option for electronic notices to those who choose them.

Correspondence Electronic Notifications- Text Message and Email

Within MMC, customers have the option to "Manage Your Communication Preference" under the Account Management tab. Customers  may receive "Email" or "Email and Text Message" alerts after they have validated their email address. These alerts notify the customer that they have a new electronic notice available for viewing in their MMC account. The alerts will only serve as a notification to the customer and will not contain the actual notice.

As a condition of waiver approval, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requires that SNAP customers who request to receive  a mobile phone text message alert must also receive an email alert.  This is due to the limitations of current technology available on some mobile phones which does not insure that staff will be informed when text messages are undeliverable to the customer.  This requirement will apply to all benefit programs (Cash, Medical and SNAP). A customer cannot choose to receive only mobile text message alerts.

How do the Alerts Work?

A Text Message electronic notification is a one way messaging system that notifies the customer when there is a new notice available in their MMC account.The maximum number of characters per text message is limited to 160.

An Email electronic notification is also a one way messaging system that notifies the customer when there is a new notice available in their MMC account.  There are no character limits for email notifications.

Once the customer navigates to the "Manage Your Communication Preferences" screen they have the option to change their communication preferences to either "Email" or "Email and Text Message". If a valid email address has been entered the customer will receive a validation email to complete the enrollment.

Email and Text Message to Mobile Phone 

When there is a new notice in the customer's MMC account and their communication preference is "Email and Text Message" the following text message will be sent to their mobile phone:

FRM: donotreply@illinois.gov
MSG: A new notice is ready in your ABE.illinois.gov.account

DO NOT REPLY

Msg&Data rates may apply (130 Characters)

Email only or Email and Text Message to Email Account

If there is a new notice in the customer's MMC account and their communication preference is "Email only" or "Email and Text Message" they will receive the following as an email to their validated email account:

From: donotreply@illinois.gov
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 4:44 PM
To: iescasename@commonemailbrowser.com
Subject: ABE: New notice is available in your account!

Dear (IES Case Name)

An important notice is available in your ABE account. Please

log in to your account at abe.illinois.gov and click on the

(Manage My Case) button  to view your notice. If you feel

you have received this email in error, log back into your ABE

account to review your communication preferences.

Please do not reply to this email. If you have any questions please

contact your DHS or HFS office.

How Can the Customer Opt Out of Receiving Alerts

The customer can log into their ABE account and navigate to the "Manage Your Communication Preferences" screen and select "I do not want to receive alerts." If customers choose this option, they cannot receive "Electronic Only" notices.

Opt Out of Email

If the customer previously received email notifications, they will opt out of email when they switch from "Electronic Only" back to "Paper and Electronic".

From: donotreply@illinois.gov
Sent: Wednesday September 21, 2016 4:44 PM
To: iescasename@commonemailbrowser.com
Subject: ABE: Your Communication Preferences Have Changed

Dear (IES Case Name)

Your communication preferences have been updated in your ABE account.

You have unsubscribed from receiving email alerts from the State of Illinois.

If you feel you have received this email in error, log back into your ABE account to

review your communication preferences.

Please do not reply to this email. If you have any questions please contact your DHS or HFS

office.

Opt Out of Mobile Phone Text Message

In addition to the email, IES sends the confirmation text below to the customer's mobile phone when they decide to opt out of email and text message alerts.

FRM: donotreply@illinois.gov
MSG: Your communication preferences have been updated in your ABE account.

DO NOT REPLY.

Msg&Data rates may apply (111 Characters)

How will Staff know the Method of Communication?

In Data Collection, staff can view the customer's method of communication in the "Household Contact Information" section titled "Notice Method".  It has a drop down with following options: Electronic Only, Electronic Only-Email and Text, Paper Only, Paper and Electronic-Email, and Paper and Electronic-Email and Text.

How will the Customer get a Medical Card?

Medical cards will be made available via notices in Manage My Case. For customers who do not set up a Manage My Case account, medical cards will be mailed with the notices.  Notices and medical cards cannot be emailed.

Miscellaneous Changes

This release contains miscellaneous manual pages inadvertently omitted in a previous manual release and requires updating of the manual pages.

Manual Revisions

[signed copy on file]

James T. Dimas

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Felicia F. Norwood

Director, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Forms Referenced:

Form 1119