RI ACLU Says Dept. of Human Services “Has Shown No Improvement” in Processing SNAP Applications
Friday, May 19, 2017
Rhode Island ACLU is claiming that the Department of Human Services (DHS) has shown no improvement in April regarding the timely processing of SNAP (food stamp) applications.
This includes for people who the Department acknowledges are entitled to emergency relief.
The claims follow a new report sent by DHS to the ACLU of RI and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
“This most recent report indicates that the state clearly needs to take stronger and immediate action to achieve compliance. Our organizations will also be considering the steps we must take to make sure that hungry Rhode Island families and individuals receive in a timely manner the food stamps to which they are entitled as a matter of federal law,” said Lynette Labinger, volunteer attorney for the ACLU.
DHS's April Report to ACLU
In April, according to DHS’s report, over 700 families who qualified for expedited benefits because of their emergency needs did not get their benefits within 7 days of their application as required by law.
Another 382 needy families who were entitled to receive benefits within 30 days did not receive them on time.
Only 58% of the decisions on expedited (emergency) applications were made within the 7 days required by law last month, and only 55% of the decisions on regular SNAP applications were made within the required 30 days.
Under the settlement agreement the agency was supposed to have timely decided 80% of SNAP expedited applications and 75% of regular applications for the month of April.
Among other things, the settlement agreement requires DHS to meet specific targets and timetables for improving its timely processing of SNAP applications. By the end of August, DHS is required to timely decide 96% of SNAP expedited and regular applications. The federal court will retain jurisdiction of the case for at least one year after the state first achieves the 96% compliance rate.
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