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Floridian with Visual Impairment Seeks Adoption of Rules to Assist with Food Stamp Applications

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kathryn Cosson, a 52-year old Food Stamp recipient with a visual disability from Walton County, has filed a formal petition with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) today asking the agency to promulgate and make public important policies benefitting individuals with disabilities.

At the heart of this petition is Ms. Cosson’s 5-year battle with DCF over its refusal to assist her with recertifying for Food Stamps. According to the petition, Ms. Cosson lives alone and cannot read, fill out or submit Food Stamp recertification applications on her own. Although DCF knows that Ms. Cosson is visually-impaired, on at least four occasions since 2010 DCF has cut off – or threatened to cut off – Ms. Cosson’s Food Stamps after she was unable to complete the recertification form.  

Photograph of Kathryn Cosson As Ms. Cosson explains, “DCF says it won’t flag my case to help me at recertification time. All DCF says is that I have to wait until I get a notice in the mail telling me that my recertification is due and then try to call them. But I can’t read the notices that DCF sends me to know to do that.” 

The story would have been different for Ms. Cosson if she had been made aware of and allowed to utilize DCF’s policies for assisting individuals with disabilities when submitting agency applications. “That’s why I want DCF to spread the word about what it is supposed to do to help me and other folks with disabilities,” Ms. Cosson says.  In her petition, Ms. Cosson asks DCF to formally adopt, as rules, its policies governing how the Department should assist individuals with disabilities. Ms. Cosson is being represented by Disability Rights Florida, Inc., and Florida Legal Services, Inc.

According to David Boyer, an attorney with Disability Rights Florida, “adopting these policies through rulemaking will give persons with disabilities, like Ms. Cosson, not only an opportunity for input, but also the important information they need to know about how DCF is supposed to operate.” Florida Legal Services attorney Kathy Grunewald adds, “While DCF has guidelines for assisting people with disabilities, it has done little or nothing to inform the public about them. This means that the most vulnerable Floridians are not able to get or keep benefits like Medicaid or Food Stamps, which are essential to their survival.”

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benefits, department of children and families, litigation, medicaid,

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