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Issue Alert - 02-07-02

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Jul 16, 2002

Issue Summary:

Michigan’s 36-month time period for Time Limited Food Assistance (TLFA) will be reset on December 1, 2002.

Persons Affected:

Recipients and applicants eligible for Time Limited Food Assistance (TLFA).

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558E-mail:


Food Assistance Program (FAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program

What's Happening?

Effective December 1, 2002, Michigan’s 36-month time period for Time Limited Food Assistance (TLFA) eligibility will begin. New applicants who file an application for TLFA on or after August 2 through October 31, 2002, and have three months of eligibility remaining in the current period, may be given a benefit period ending February 28, 2003. If a client chooses this option, they will be using up both their benefit periods for the current 36-month session and the future 36-month session. If an individual lost Food Assistance before December 1, 1999 (when the current 3-year clock began), he/she may be eligible for at least 3 months of help as of December 1, 2002. Individuals may be able to receive more than three months of Food Assistance, even if they are not working 20 hours per week. There are three ways of doing this:1. Exemptions. If an individual falls into one of the following categories, she is exempt from the 3/36 rule.- In a Food Assistance group with a child, OR - Unable to work because of physical or mental problems, OR- Disabled, OR- Pregnant, OR- Participating with the Michigan Rehabilitation Program OR- Victim of Domestic Violence.2. Join the Food Assistance Employment and Training Program. This is done by asking for a referral to the Michigan Works Agency (MWA) from the FIA caseworker. Individuals will then search for a job for 30 days. If they are not successful, the MWA will place them in an unpaid job at a non-profit organization. If the individual has not been successful in the work arena, they may participate in a “work experience” where more training is offered. Also, 10 hours of work can be combined with education or training to meet the 20 hour per week requirement.3. Community ServiceIndividuals must volunteer the same number of hours as their Food Assistance benefit divided by the minimum wage. Volunteer placements must be at a non-profit or governmental agency. Caseworkers may have a list of organizations that qualify.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advise clients and agencies that the time-limited food assistance clock is being “reset” and that recipients that have used up their three-months in the past 36 months can reapply for the next 36-month session. There is also a pamphlet available online at called How Childless Adults Can Receive Food Stamps for More Than Three Months. Advocates can give these pamphlets to local agencies for them to distribute and encourage them to let their clients know that the clock is being reset and what they can do to reapply.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan Legal Assistance Network website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738