In recognition of a continuing backlog causing undue hardship to hundreds of poor residents, the ACLU of Rhode Island has set up a telephone hotline for people to call if they are having trouble with their SNAP (food stamp) application being processed in a timely manner due to the state’s months-long UHIP computer fiasco.
The hotline is a supplement to a pending class-action lawsuit filed last month by the ACLU and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, charging that the ongoing UHIP system failures violate the constitutional and statutory rights of Rhode Islanders entitled to timely decisions on their SNAP applications under the law. The ACLU emphasized that the hotline is only for SNAP application processing delay complaints, and not for unrelated problems involving SNAP or for UHIP problems involving other state programs.
ACLU staff will take contact and other information from callers whose complaints fall within this scenario and forward them along to the attorneys for the plaintiffs for possible expedited resolution. The hotline number is 1-877-231-7171. If the person receives voice mail, they should leave their name and phone number and confirm that the complaint involves a UHIP-related SNAP processing problem.
Federal law requires the state to decide SNAP applications within 30 days from the date the application is submitted. SNAP applicants with little or no money may be eligible to have their application decided within 7 days (expedited processing). However, those deadlines are still too often being violated because of the computer problems.
Although the UHIP system is causing problems for people seeking benefits in other areas, such as health care and Medicaid, at this point the lawsuit and hotline deal only with computer-related delays in processing SNAP applications.
Information about the ACLU's pending lawsuit can be found here: http://www.riaclu.org/news/archive-post/aclu-sues-state-over-food-stamp-...