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The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be forced to restore lost benefits to thousands of households following a Monroe County Supreme Court ruling last month. OTDA slashed benefits in July 2004 for families with a disabled family member receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), arguing that these households were “double dipping.” But a lawsuit brought by the Empire Justice Center found that the change, estimated to affect 40,000 families statewide, would leave already vulnerable families in peril. In his July 13 decision Justice David Egan said OTDA Commissioner Robert Doar had overstepped his authority. “The cost savings and policy choices attempted by the Commissioner in this matter are a subject which can only be addressed by the Legislature,” he wrote. “Therefore the regulation is invalid and contrary to law.” (C. Feldman) [08/15/05]