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Issue Alert - 03-10-06

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Oct 01, 2003

Issue Summary:

FIA has raised the yearly energy caps for State Emergency Relief. However, they will no longer grant exceptions to the yearly cap.

Persons Affected:

Persons applying for SER for heating and electric services


State Emergency Relief (SER) SER 301, 402

What's Happening?

According to Program Policy Bulletin 2003-011, FIA has eliminated the local office’s ability to do fiscal year cap exceptions for energy services. To compensate, FIA has increased the yearly energy caps. The new cap amounts are:Energy type (Old / New) Natural gas and wood ($350 / $450)Deliverable fuels (except wood) ($650 / $750)Residential electric (not used for heat) ($350 / $450)All-electric home ($700 / $900)There continues to be no ability to waive or reduce income co-payments at this time.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should be aware of the new policy and communicate it to clients. The Michigan Community Action Agency (CAA) has been awarded $4 million dollars to help people with energy needs. Advocates should also refer clients to CAA for additional help. Advocates should also be aware of the charitable organizations in their area that can help families with energy resources, and refer their clients to those organization for help with electric and heat shut offs. Advocates should still advise clients to apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) for help with energy shut-offs, and for other purposes that SER funds, like rent arrearages and other utility shut-offs.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should use weatherization and conservation strategies to reduce their bills. Clients may still apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) through the Family Independence Agency (FIA) for energy shut-offs and for other emergency needs that the program can help with, like rent arrearages and other utility shut-offs. Also, clients should seek help with heat and electric shut-offs from CAA and other local charitable organizations or churches. If a client thinks she or he has been incorrectly denied SER, seek legal advice.

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 LawHelp website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.