NCLEJ and Colleagues Challenge Florida’s Improper Termination of Food Stamps for Jobless Adults

On December 16, NCLEJ, along with Florida colleagues, filed a federal class action lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida challenging the State’s termination of food stamps for needy adults as a result of its flawed implementation of a complex new work requirement.

Effective 2016, Florida made its Employment and Training (E&T) program mandatory for adults determined to be Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs). These adults must comply with the rules as a condition of receiving food stamp benefits. This means that the State can disqualify ABAWDs from receiving food assistance if it finds them to not have complied with work requirements.

These jobless adults are extremely vulnerable and often face many challenges, including homelessness and mental health issues. Florida imposed both E&T and ABAWD work requirements without adequately screening this group to identify those eligible for exemptions, including those who are homeless or unfit for work. In addition, the State has not provided adequate pre-termination sanction notice or notified those subject to the new rules of the State’s determination of their ABAWD status and how to challenge that determination before it imposed the work requirements.

Already, more than 400,000 residents have lost food stamps – including many who are people with disabilities or low-income working single adults. The lawsuit, Christopher MO. v. Carroll, claims that Florida’s termination of these adults violates federal food stamp law and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.