Indianapolis attorney Steven Dick filed the lawsuit against the Family and Social Services Administration this week in Marion County on behalf of his 28-year-old son, who relies on public assistance. The suit seeks class action status on behalf of as many as 1,500 people.
The 16-page complaint claims that the agency rewrote its policy in 2010 to avoid illegally decreasing the food allowance the state paid to disabled residents enrolled in a Medicaid waiver program to offset the amount they received in food stamps. However, in the same policy, the agency quietly eliminated the state food allowance.
"Said calculated maneuver was to do indirectly what they had wrongfully been doing directly," Dick's lawsuit claims.
FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons said in an email Friday that the agency hasn't had time to review the complaint and doesn't comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit says state law obligates the social services agency to pay the actual cost of room and board. Board, the suit claims, refers to meals. Since the policy change, Dick's son has had to eat on $173 in food stamps per month, the complaint says. Previously, he had also received a $200 monthly food allowance from the state.
Dick claims in the suit that the agency terminated the food allowance in retaliation for a related lawsuit he filed against the agency in 2010. That lawsuit was later settled out of court.
Dick appealed the policy change, but an administrative law judge dismissed his claim in August. The lawsuit asks a Marion County judge to declare the agency's policy change invalid and bar the FSSA from reducing the amount of assistance paid to disabled residents because they also receive food stamps.