For at least a decade, as many as 6,000 of Indiana’s neediest adults have seen some of their state aid payments slashed simply because they receive food stamps — a practice that advocates and legal experts say is a clear violation of federal law.

The issue apparently went unnoticed until this month, when the father of a severely autistic Indianapolis man challenged it in court.

Under the current system, when the federal government raises food stamp amounts, Indiana officials reduce grocery allowances so a person’s total food benefits do not exceed $200 a month.

Federal law bars states from counting food stamps as income or using them to reduce any other public benefits. But a spokesman for the state welfare agency says it does not believe the policy breaks the law.

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