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Issue Alert - 04-02-03

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Date:

Feb 10, 2004

Issue Summary:

Local Family Independence Agency offices may use Emergency Services funds to assist clients in meeting unmet required payments for energy services under the State Emergency Relief (SER) program. They also may use ES funds to expand payment maximums for energy services if the client meets all other eligibility requirements for SER energy services.

Persons Affected:

Individuals or families seeking State Emergency Relief to pay heat or electric bills.

For More Information:

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000(734) 998-6100Fax: (734) 998-9125


Background

Emergency Services (ES) and State Emergency Relief (SER)

What's Happening?

FIA issued an Interim Program Policy Bulletin (IPPB 2004-002) dated December 1, 2003, which allows local FIA offices to use their Emergency Services funds to assist clients in making their required payments for "energy required payments" and for copayments required as a result of excess income. The ES funds may NOT be used to assist clients in meeting copayments that result from excess assets. Under IPPB 2004-002, local FIA offices also may use ES to assist clients who need SER assistance in excess of the annual maximums or caps for energy services (heat and electric).

What Should Advocates Do?

Find out what your local FIA office's guidelines are for using ES funds. Assist clients in requesting ES funds when needed.

What Should Clients Do?

Ask if your local office can help you with ES funds if you are denied SER because you have not met required payments or need more than the annual cap. Seek legal advice if you are denied SER.

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