Sharpen Technical Knowledge

Seemingly complex technology can interfere with advocates’ ability to fight for benefits access. Sometimes it is necessary to actually understand the technology in question, but other times, knowing “just enough” or asking key questions can set you on the right advocacy path even if you never fully understand the system. Advocates already have tons of experience with the benefits system and fighting for people’s needs. We want to support this work with accessible and useful technical resources tailored to public benefits systems. We also want to build up technical knowledge in advocates on the ground so that more people are equipped to fight new technical challenges as they arise.

Start with these resources

You may be in the middle of a large-scale fight to get back benefits, or you’re simply trying to stay ahead of the issues you see cropping up in your state and across the country. Either way, read on for ways to fine-tune your understanding of how technology can cause problems.

Understand how technology keeps people from getting benefits

Based on years of experience helping people get back benefits from “broken” technical systems, we have seen that technology can cause harm in different ways, and that distinguishing the types of technology issues is useful to determine the goals of litigation or advocacy. Read through our Making Sense of Technology Problems Framework to understand the ways technology can be a source of benefits cuts, terminations, and denials and what this means for how to confront it.

Learn from on-the-ground fights

There have been countless fights against broken benefits technology. We’ve collected just a subset of them in our Case Study Library. Read through our case studies to get a sense of what types of technology is being used in different states and benefits programs and the issues that have arisen.

Find out about benefits technology in your state

It can be difficult to find out what technology agencies in your state are using to administer benefits programs and daunting to understand how it is being used and what issues might arise. Our Public Records Request Guide walks through how you can use your state’s public records laws to get information from an agency about the benefits technology they are using. Our Key Questions Guide provides a roadmap for gathering information about how a benefits technology system is being devised, was built, or is being used or operated.

Grasp terms of art

Navigating technical and legal terms can be really tough! We are building up a Glossary of terms we have used or seen relating to benefits technology.

Making Sense of Technology Problems Framework

This framework provides strategies for resolving different types of technology problems, based on our experiences. We introduce a couple terms for understanding how technology tends to fail, and the strategic questions to consider. We base this on an analysis of past issues, and describe the important considerations of each issue type. You’ll get a better understanding of when technology needs a straightforward fix, and when the technology has more complex technical or political problems.

Making Sense of Technology Problems Framework

Key Resources

Case Study Library

The Case Study Library concisely describes real examples of technology affecting access to public benefits, and how issues were resolved.

Key Questions Guide

This guide will help you start piecing together why and how benefits tech is being used and how it is impacting people.


This is a list of terms and their definitions that you may use while fighting problems in public benefits technology.

Public Records Request Guide

This guide will help you think through how you can use public records requests to help find out why the state decided to implement a benefits technology system, how they implemented it, and how they are using it.