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NCLEJ and Partners See Significant Improvement in Benefit Application Processing in Steuben County

In February 2010, NCLEJ, the Western New York Law Center, and the Empire Justice Center achieved a settlement approved by the United States District Court for the Western District of New York in a class action case challenging Steuben County’s unlawful practice of delaying food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance applications. The Court had certified a class of food stamp, Medicaid, and cash public assistance applicants in August 2009.

The settlement provided relief to the hundreds of Steuben County residents who apply for food stamps, Medicaid and/or cash public assistance each month. In a time of economic downturn and lay-offs at the County’s largest employers, more and more individuals and families were requesting assistance from the County and the need for timely determinations of eligibility and provision of these much-needed benefits was essential to people’s health and well-being. The agreement ended a long standing practice by the County of processing applications often weeks and months longer than permitted by law.

After two and a half years of compliance with the Court ordered settlement, the Court’s jurisdiction came to an end in October 2012. The County has processed low-income Steuben County residents’ applications for food stamps, Medicaid, and/or cash public assistance in a timely manner in nearly every case. NCLEJ and partners will continue to monitor the County’s performance after the Court’s jurisdiction over the County ends.

For further information, please contact: Laura F. Redman (redman(at)nclej.org), Petra T. Tasheff, (tasheff(at)nclej.org) and Marc Cohan (cohan(at)nclej.org) at NCLEJ at (212) 633-6967.