ACLU Settles With State Over Food Stamp Delays

Feb 24, 2017

There have been long waits for public benefits like food stamps at Dept. of Human Services field offices like this one.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The ACLU of Rhode Island has reached a settlement with the state over the state’s failure to provide food stamps on time. The suit argued the rocky rollout of a new public benefits system caused thousands of households to be denied or face lengthy waits for their benefits.  

The ACLU says the settlement includes the state’s acknowledgment that it must process regular food stamp applications within thirty days or seven days if it’s an emergency. The settlement says the state has to be in compliance with those guidelines by certain dates. Also, the state must notify anyone who applied for food stamps since August 2016 that they can request retroactive benefits if the Department of Human Services lost their application or didn’t process it on time.

Acting Department of Human Services Director Eric Beane said in a statement that he agrees the delays in food stamp access are unacceptable. He says the state is committed to working in partnership with the ACLU and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, another plaintiff in the suit. The troubles began when the state implemented its new public benefits system, UHIP.