Date: June 17 2019
CONTACT: Angie Tacker – 404-614-3922
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Georgians with Disabilities Settle Lawsuit To Provide Meaningful Access to
Food Stamp and Medicaid Benefits
Four low-income Georgia residents with disabilities recently settled a federal lawsuit alleging that the state agencies systematically failed to accommodate the disabilities of some of its most vulnerable residents in its food stamp and Medicaid programs. Although the suit was brought by four Georgia residents, the issue affects hundreds of thousands of Georgians.
Atlanta Legal Aid, in conjunction with Alston & Bird, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Georgia Legal Services Program, brought the lawsuit on behalf of the four plaintiffs and spent over a year negotiating the settlement with the state agencies. With the cooperation of the state agencies responsible for administering the food stamp and Medicaid programs, an agreement was reached that will increase the agencies’ efficacy in providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.
“The goal of this settlement is to create a culture at the agencies where meaningful access for all Georgians, including low-income and disabled residents, is the norm, not the exception,” said Greg Bass, a Senior Attorney at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
Specifically, the agencies have agreed to improve how they administer their Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program (SNAP) and Medicaid program to make it easier for people with disabilities to access those services. To do this, they will create new local positions to help people with disabilities who need accommodations to apply for and maintain their food and health benefits. They will also improve their forms and their ability to track and implement accommodations.
In addition, within the first year of the order, there will be a new website where the public can access information about the improvements, and new opportunities for advocates in the community to meet and discuss issues that affect people with disabilities in these programs.
Finally, during the period of the order (three and a half years) the agencies have agreed to a referral process to resolve cases where people with disabilities did not receive accommodations they need.
The advocacy and effort of Legal Aid and its partners, Alston & Bird, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, and Georgia Legal Services Program, were invaluable in achieving this outcome. And without the cooperation of the state agencies, this agreement would have never been made. This order is essential to the food security and health stability of people with disabilities. Without this order enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities would find it difficult or impossible to fully participate in all aspects of society.
Alston & Bird is a leading national and international law firm. The firm’s core practice areas are intellectual property, complex litigation, corporate, and tax, with national industry practices that include financial services, technology, health care, manufacturing, life sciences, and energy. The firm has built a reputation as one of the country’s best employers, appearing on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 20 consecutive years, an unprecedented accomplishment among law firms in the United States. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Beijing, Brussels, Charlotte, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Research Triangle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice works with low-income families, individuals, communities, and organizations to advance the cause of economic justice through litigation, policy work, and support of grassroots organizing around the country. NCLEJ has provided legal representation, support, and advice to people living in poverty and their advocates since 1965 across a wide range of issues, including public entitlements, access and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, low-wage worker rights, consumer, housing, health, and other civil rights.
Georgia Legal Services Program (“GLSP”) is a statewide non-profit law firm serving persons living in 154 counties in Georgia outside the five-county metropolitan Atlanta area. Founded in 1971, GLSP provides free legal services in civil cases to Georgians with low incomes, including many who are disabled. GLSP clients have “high stakes” problems such as domestic violence, eviction or foreclosure, denial of hard-earned benefits such as unemployment, inability to get critically-needed health care, food aid, employment, housing, and many more. GLSP’s mission is to assure that Georgians with low income have access to justice and opportunities out of poverty. GLSP represents clients by advocating for obtaining and maintaining benefits including Medicaid and Food Stamps.
Atlanta Legal Aid Society works to remove barriers to justice so that everyone can receive quality legal care, regardless of income. Through our 65 attorneys on staff, our pro bono program, and our self-help tools, we help our clients deal with some of life’s most basic needs. For nearly 100 years, we have been helping our clients to secure safe homes, have enough food to eat, get a decent education, be protected against fraud, and get legal protection against domestic violence. Last year alone, our attorneys handled more than 20,000 cases that affected over 45,000 people in metro Atlanta. At Atlanta Legal Aid, we believe in a future where everyone has equal access to justice, regardless of income, and we are working towards that future every day.