Our Work to Advance Disability Rights

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice is a national leader in the fight to advance disability rights. Many low-income people have physical, mental, and learning disabilities that affect their ability to access public benefits. Nearly half of families receiving public benefits have a parent or child with a disability. 

NCLEJ maintains a robust docket of litigation and advocacy to ensure that public benefits are fully accessible to people with disabilities. We seek to ensure that laws and programs live up to the promise of the ADA, which was designed to eliminate discrimination against disabled people, promote full inclusion into all aspects of society, and create clear anti-discrimination standards. NCLEJ is excited to broaden this advocacy by bringing a disability justice lens to our litigation and policy efforts. The disability justice movement takes disability rights activism a step further, acknowledging and engaging in the inextricability of racist, classist, sexist, transphobic, and ableist oppression. We are committed to centering intersectionality as we develop our disability justice practice across the country.  

Here is an overview of some of our recent disability rights work across several states: 


In 2023, NCLEJ achieved a major settlement that will, subject to court approval, secure more than $110 million in additional state expenditures for Michiganders with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on Medicaid Community Living Support. This follows a landmark ruling we secured in 2020 in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that isolation at home constitutes a violation of the “integration mandate” under the ADA. 

New York: 

In 2022, NCLEJ secured a settlement requiring the Suffolk County Department of Social Services to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to allow them to access critically needed SNAP, Medicaid, and emergency shelter.  

NCLEJ secured a watershed settlement in 2015 establishing the right of public benefits applicants and recipients who are blind or have low vision to receive critical eligibility documents in alternate formats they can access. 

NCLEJ continues to enforce the pathbreaking 2014 settlement in Baez v. NYCHA, which obligates the New York City Housing Authority to ensure timely and effective remediation of toxic mold and moisture in public housing. The Baez consent decree, also the first of its kind in the nation, sets out detailed protocols mandating abatement of these deplorable living conditions, under the oversight of a court-appointed Special Master and mold and data analyst experts, as a reasonable accommodation to public housing tenants’ respiratory disabilities under the ADA.  


In R.H. v. Rawlings, NCLEJ and other co-counsel secured a 2019 federal court settlement requiring the State of Georgia to implement a uniform system of providing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities to allow them to access critically needed public benefits. 


NCLEJ continues to pursue a class action suit — representing approximately 47,500 Louisiana Medicaid-eligible children and youth under 21 — to require the State to provide community-based mental and behavioral health services to young people so that they can remain in their community. Currently, these critical services are provided only in hospitals and jails, leading to unnecessary institutionalization of disabled children who need these supports. 


We sued Missouri to remedy its systemic failure to allow people to access SNAP benefits and failure to provide any process other than an overloaded call center for requesting reasonable accommodations. This case is the first attempt to use federal litigation under the SNAP Act, the ADA, and the Due Process Clause to address the specific access barriers facing today’s SNAP applicants and recipients.