MICHIGAN — The Department of Human Services is encouraging its clients to apply for benefits online in an effort to expedite the process and streamline operations.

The statewide initiative, tagged “Get online, not in line,” shows current and potential clients the ease of starting a profile and applying for benefits online rather than driving to the nearest DHS office and waiting for assistance.

People in poverty may not have easy access to transportation, said Mecosta-Osceola DHS director Luther Lovell, which makes the online option especially helpful. Even those without Internet access at home usually can get to a library or other public place with available Internet easier than they could get to the DHS office, he added.

The electronic program DHS uses allows people to immediately begin filing information for their case, a process that involves a waiting period when a case worker is required to respond to each request. People also can view the progress of their case online, so they will know when to expect benefits.

As part of the online initiative, a “lobby navigator” now is available at DHS. The employee identifies what people need when they come into the office and then shows them how to complete the task online if possible, before directing them to other staff in the office.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mibridges.