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A win for families receiving SNAP in Connecticut

Imagine not being able to get food on your table because your state has problems processing benefits in a timely fashion. These delays could mean that families, including those with children, may not be able to meet their basic needs.  
 
Until recently, Connecticut ranked last in the nation in terms of getting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to eligible people on time.   
 
According to recent federal data, nearly 400,000 people in Connecticut receive SNAP benefits, more commonly known as food stamps. These numbers increased during the pandemic. Federal law requires that states ensure that people who qualify for SNAP benefits receive them within 30 days, or for particularly destitute households, within 7 days.  
 
NCLEJ, co-counseling with Greater Hartford Legal Aid (GHLA), brought the Briggs class action lawsuit in 2012 to compel Connecticut to do a better job of getting SNAP benefits to eligible people on time. The litigation involved intensive discovery and motion practice, including an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state asserted that the plaintiffs had no private right to enforce the federal law mandate of processing SNAP benefits on time.  
 
NCLEJ and GHLA prevailed on that appeal, establishing a legal precedent that these mandates could indeed be enforced. The settlement required Connecticut to achieve a rate of 96% compliance with timely processing of SNAP benefits for 26 months out of any 30-month period, which was achieved last month. 
 
Earlier this month, the federal court for the U.S. District of Connecticut dismissed the Briggs v. Bremby class action lawsuit because Connecticut had complied with the terms of the court-approved settlement in the case.  
 
Here’s the takeaway: Connecticut has evolved from its status of last in the country to a national leader in terms of getting SNAP benefits to low-income people on time.  
 
This success story is just one of the wins that NCLEJ helped make possible and demonstrates the power of our strategic impact litigation that persists until justice is won.