The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decided on July 6 that Connecticut residents have the right to sue the state for delays in processing food stamp applications.
The ruling will allow potential recipients to learn of their application decision in a timely manner, reports the New Haven Register. The three judges on the panel also said the Department of Social Services has no excuse for not providing food stamps within a specific time frame.
Federal law requires DSS offices to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications within 30 days or within seven days in cases considered "dire need."
U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant issued a preliminary injunction against DSS nearly two years ago, when Bryant said the DSS was plagued by an “ongoing, persistent systemic failure to comply with the strict unambiguous mandates imposed by the (Food Stamp Act),” reports the New Haven Register.
Lucy Potter, Greater Hartford Legal Aid who was behind the initial federal suit with the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, said the decision goes beyond Connecticut.
“We are very pleased that the 2nd Circuit unanimously upheld Judge Bryant’s ruling," Potter said. “It not only helps ensure that eligible Connecticut residents will be able to get basic nutrition and sustenance in a timely way, but will be an important precedent around the country.”
Although DSS did not approve of the ruling, it said it was considering the court’s decision. The DSS also said it has greatly improved in the timeliness of its application processing, The Associated Press reported.
In 2014, more than 438,000 people in Connecticut received SNAP benefits, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.