November 27, 2008

Court action puts food on the table

A few of New York City's poorest residents will feast on turkey at home this Thanksgiving due to the settlement of a six-year-old class-action lawsuit.

The case, filed against the city by the Urban Justice Center in 2002, was settled in 2006, but plaintiffs have just recently been granted their awards, which amount to additions of up to $5,000 on their food stamp benefit accounts, The New York Times reported Thursday.

While most of the awards are smaller than that, city resident Monica Ryan said she would buy a turkey having learned the sudden appearance of $888 on her benefit card was legitimate.

Ryan's monthly food stamp allocation is $107. She discovered the surplus in her account at a store, while assuming she had $5 left to spend.

The suit was filed on behalf of disabled food stamp recipients whose benefits were cut off when they were moved from welfare to Social Security programs after the federal government imposed its five-year limit on welfare recipients in 1996, the Times reported.

The court ruled the recipients were entitled to food stamps while receiving Social Security benefits.