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Issue Alert - 02-09-02

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Date:

Oct 01, 2002

Issue Summary:

FIA will no longer pro-rate utility standards among households that share utility expenses.

Persons Affected:

1) FAP groups that share utility expenses with another household that is not part of their FAP group and 2) FAP groups that receive a pro-rated utility standard because a disqualified household member has an obligation for the expense.


Background

Food Assistance Program (FAP - formerly known as Food Stamps)

What's Happening?

FIA will no longer pro-rate utility standards for any reason. If multiple FAP groups share an expense, each group will receive the full utility standard. In the example above, both families would receive the full Heat and Utility Standard.Actual utility expenses (not Utility Standards) may still be pro-rated if they are shared by more than one group or if certain disqualified members (see above) are responsible for the expense. Actual utility expenses may only be budgeted for households that do not qualify for the Heat and Utility Standard or any of the Individual Standards. Actual utility expenses may only be claimed for utility installation (not deposit or reconnection fees), water installation and maintenance, and septic installation and maintenance.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should share this information with their clients who may be receiving pro-rated utility standards. Specifically, advocates should target FAP recipients who live with people who are not included in their FAP group, either because they don't eat together or because the other person is disqualified from FAP. One group that will be affected by this change is immigrant families that receive FAP for their citizen children only. While these families previously would have received a pro-rated utility standard if they have utility expenses, under this new policy they will begin to receive the full amount of the Utility Standard. Advocates should inform their clients who are affected by this change of the new policy.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients who live with other people who are not part of their FAP group should make sure their caseworkers apply the new policy to their case so they may receive the full utility standard rather than the pro-ration. Clients who have been receiving a pro-rated utility standard may see an increase in their Food Stamp grant under the new policy, but not all grants will be affected.

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 (http://www.mlan.net/locate.html) or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738