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Social-services recipients entitled to injunctive relief

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The Family and Social Services Administration’s adverse action notices pertaining to public benefits programs that don’t name specific missing eligibility documents don’t comport with the requirement of procedural due process, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the FSSA on behalf of people who have applied for or receive public benefits to enjoin the state agency from issuing adverse action notices regarding Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If an applicant was denied, he would receive a generic notice alleging failure to cooperate but the notice didn’t specify what verification document was missing. The trial court certified specific classes of people who could sue.

Marion Superior Court found FSSA procedures as a whole satisfied procedural due process requirements and FSSA was entitled to summary judgment on that issue. It also issued a declaratory judgment and injunction against FSSA because the agency had, in violation of federal law governing SNAP, utilized a “failure to cooperate” standard as opposed to a “refusal to cooperate” standard. The trial court also ruled that FSSA had violated class member Sheila Perdue’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act when FSSA automatically scheduled her for a phone interview with a caseworker despite her known hearing impairment and denied her benefits for “failure to cooperate.”
 
In Sheila Perdue, et al. v. Anne W. Murphy, et al., No. 49A02-1003-PL-250, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s ruling that the adverse action procedures as a whole satisfied procedural due process rights. FSSA’s procedures place a great burden upon the disadvantaged person to show on appeal that each and every document was timely provided, wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey. He also noted the appellate court couldn’t find that making the FSSA specify the reason for its denial would place a great burden on the agency.

“We are persuaded by the Recipients’ argument that they may not effectively exercise a right to be heard on appeal absent sufficient information to adequately prepare for and pursue the appeal. Mindful that an individual receiving an FSSA adverse action notice likely has a physical, mental, or economic disadvantage (or combination thereof), it is unreasonable to expect that the recipient can act to protect his or her interests without specific information,” wrote the judge.

In addition to reversing summary judgment for FSSA on this issue, the judges also upheld the lower court’s grant of declaratory judgment and injunctive relief regarding SNAP and the finding that Perdue’s rights were violated. The agency didn’t demonstrate that the injunction was overbroad or a genuine issue of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. In addition, FSSA even conceded at oral argument that it wasn’t demonstrably harmed by the injunctive orders that amounted to orders to follow existing law, wrote the judge.

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  • GOP and that Man Mitch at it again
    This is a typical example of how Mitch in his "reform" minded mode to "fix" government is nothing but a ruse to deny benefits for those in need. You can't convince anyone that the vagueness of the "form" letter was not a GOP way of denying benefits based upon their "concieved" notion of complying with the law. They knew that a person would have no idea what was missing, and if they tried to find out, they would get put on hold for ever trying to find someone who would not have any answers.

    Again the GOP provides the worse government that special interests can buy. Time to get rid of the pary of NO and their mean spirited self center, selfish agenda.

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  1. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  2. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  3. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  4. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

  5. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.

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