Hogan Lovells Joins Legal Aid and National Center for Law and Economic Justice in Federal Suit Against DC Department of Human Services Over SNAP Benefits

Washington, DC, 29 August 2017 – Hogan Lovells joined the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice today in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the DC Department of Human Services (DHS) over systematic failures resulting in DC residents being denied or losing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps.

The suit, filed on behalf of Bread for the City, four named plaintiffs, and a larger class of SNAP recipients, alleges that SNAP recipients saw their benefits terminated with no notice or explanation, and new applicants experienced severe delays. As a result, low-income DC residents who rely on SNAP benefits were deprived of desperately needed assistance to help them feed their families.

The problems began occurring in October 2016 after DHS replaced its legacy computer system with a new system known as DC Link. Prior to launch, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warned DHS that they had not sufficiently tested the new system. In a report, DHS staff said that it was taking them four times as long to process applications since the launch. The suit alleges that DHS failed to process new applications within the required 30 days 70% of the time. The problems were so widespread that Bread for the City reported a 52% increase in the number of households seeking emergency food in October 2016 versus October 2015.

Plaintiffs are seeking the full processing of SNAP applications and issuing of benefits to eligible households, the right to reapply and complete the recertification application before the next certification period, and written notice and the opportunity to request a fair hearing to SNAP applicants whose applications are not processed within the mandated time frames.

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia was formed in 1932 to “provide legal aid and counsel to indigent persons in civil law matters and to encourage measures by which the law may better protect and serve their needs.” For more than 80 years, Legal Aid has been making justice real – in individual and systemic ways – for persons living in poverty in DC. Legal Aid currently serves individuals and families living in poverty in four priority areas – public benefits, consumer, family/domestic violence, and housing law. It also litigates appellate matters through its nationally-recognized Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project.

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice  works with low-income families, individuals, communities, and a wide range of organizations to advance the cause of economic justice through ground-breaking, successful litigation, policy work, and support of grassroots organizing around the country. They have provided legal representation, support, and advice to people living in poverty and their advocates since 1965.  

Plaintiffs are represented pro bono by Hogan Lovells lawyers Peter Bisio, Lance Murashige, and Emily Goldman, Chinh Le of Legal Aid, and Marc Cohan, Mary Mannix, Travis England, and Katharine Deabler-Meadows of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.

About Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells is a leading global legal practice providing business-oriented legal advice and high-quality service across its exceptional breadth of practices to clients around the world.

“Hogan Lovells” or the “firm” is an international legal practice that includes Hogan Lovells US LLP and Hogan Lovells International LLP. For more information, see www.hoganlovells.com.


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