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Low-Income Georgia Households to Receive $22 Million to Compensate for Their Wrongly Deprived Food Stamps

Tens of thousands of low-income Georgia families who were wrongly deprived of food stamps will receive $22 million as part of an agreement negotiated by NCLEJ. This agreement will provide relief to nearly 48,000 households across the state, many of whom had to stop paying for housing or medicine to cover the cost of feeding their families when they lost their food stamps.

This agreement, announced on January 11, 2016, comes after a settlement obtained by NCLEJ on November 19, 2015 to address long-standing violations of federal food stamp law in Georgia. The class action lawsuit that led to the settlement, Melanie K. v. Horton, challenged a system-wide failure by the Georgia agency to process food stamp applications and renewals. As a consequence, tens of thousands of families lost the ability to access critical assistance and all too many went hungry.

On August 5, 2015, Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., of the Northern District of Georgia approved the class action settlement. Under the key provisions of the settlement, the state agency must process applications and renewals for food stamps within the time required by law; provide monthly reports to ensure compliance with the Food Stamp Act; establish an informal review process; and improve its timely processing of food stamp applications until it achieves 96% on-time processing of applications in six out of seven quarters.

An additional key feature of the settlement provided that class members whose applications were wrongfully denied or not renewed, and who were subsequently approved for food stamp benefits, would receive retroactive benefits. The USDA acquiesced to the plan for the payment of retroactive benefits on November 19, 2015.

NCLEJ’s lawyers include Gina Mannix, Dodyk Fellow Leah Lotto, Katie Deabler, and Marc Cohan. Local counsel David Webster and DLA Piper’s Atlanta office joined NCLEJ on this case.

Read the August settlement here.

Press coverage:

The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionFood stamp lawsuit settlement: Feds to pay Georgians $22M
The Daily CallerThe Really Big Food Stamp Mistake That Cost Georgia Millions
• WXIA – Retroactive food stamp benefits provided to some after class action suit
• WABE – USDA To Pay Millions In Georgia Food Stamp Settlement