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FYI: Lawyers for an estimated 40,000 former New York food aid recipients announced today a proposed settlement of their class action suit against the state and federal governments. Between 1996 and 2000, the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the federal Department of Agriculture seized the tax returns of former food stamp recipients who auditors said had gotten more aid than they were entitled to receive. The New York Legal Assistance Group and the Greater Upstate Law Project filed suit (Thompson v. Wing) charging that the agencies didn’t give those individuals proper notice before taking action, and collected on debts that they were not legally authorized to claim through tax returns. Under the settlement, those who qualify will automatically receive a refund of their seized tax returns. Others will get notices that they are eligible for a “fair hearing” to challenge the assertion that they were overcompensated by the food stamp program. [8/12/03]