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Court rules FSSA notices are unconstitutional

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The Indiana Supreme Court has held that the notices sent by the state Family and Social Services Administration to inform applicants they were denied Medicaid, food stamps, or family assistance benefits are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause because they do not sufficiently explain the reasons for being denied.

In Sheila Perdue, et al. v. Michael A. Gargano, et al., No. 49S02-1107-PL-437, the justices partially reversed and affirmed the Marion Superior Court on a challenge to the state agency’s automated system of processing claims for benefits.

Plaintiffs brought a class action against the FSSA seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the administration of Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Sheila Perdue also brought an individual disability discrimination claim.

The trial court granted summary judgment to FSSA on plaintiffs’ claim that their procedural due process rights were violated, but it granted summary judgment to Perdue individually and to the class of SNAP applicants/recipients whose benefits were denied or terminated for failure to cooperate. On cross-appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment as to Perdue and as to those whose SNAP benefits were denied or terminated for failure to cooperate, and it reversed the award of summary judgment to FSSA, holding the procedures at issue did not afford plaintiffs due process.

Accepting the case, the Indiana justices held that the FSSA’s denial notices are insufficiently explanatory but that the agency may deny an application when that person fails to cooperate in the eligibility determination process. On that issue, this case is remanded to the trial court to adjudicate the plaintiffs' related claims for relief.

The justices agreed with the trial court’s grant of Perdue’s summary judgment motion on the grounds that she is entitled to reasonable accommodation in applying for benefits. But that accommodation doesn’t require the FSSA to provide a caseworker or case management services.




 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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