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Issue Alert - 04-03-04

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Date:

Mar 01, 2004

Issue Summary:

FIA receives federal approval to provide Food Stamps for more than 3 months to those who received Time-Limited Food Stamps.

Persons Affected:

Non-disabled Persons aged 18 to 49 who do not purchase or prepare food with a child under age 18.

For More Information:

Legal Services Advocates may also contact the Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100


Background

Food Stamps / Food Assistance Program

What's Happening?

Effective March 1, 2004, the 3 month-rule will no longer apply in Michigan for at least 12 months. The Manual Item for the TFLS program, PEM Item 620 will be removed 4/1/04. See PPB 2004-007. This means that people who are currently on Food Stamps will be able to have their Food Stamps continued, as long as they meet the other Food Stamp eligibility requirements, and those who previously lost Food Stamps due to the time limit may reapply. FIA has been allocated special overtime to help assure that applications for this expanded program are processed in a timely fashion. The processing deadline is 30 days for non-expedited food stamps, and 7 days for expedited food stamps. Persons with less than $150 gross monthly income and less than $100 in liquid assets qualify for expedited food stamps. See PAM Item 117 for more details. FIA will certify people with earned income as eligible for Food Stamps for up to 6 months. FIA will certify people without earnings for up to 12 months. Recipients with earned income will not have to report changes in household income unless and until their gross household income goes above the following amounts (relative to their household size). Household Size - Gross Income1 - $9732 - $1,3133 - $1,6544 - $1,9945 - $2,3346 - $2,6747 - $3,0148 - $3,354For each person above 8 - Add $341Recipients who would like to receive employment services can still ask to be referred to the Michigan Works Agency's Food Stamp Employment and Training Program. Recipients can still choose to volunteer for community agencies, but this is not required in order to get Food Stamps through February 2005.

What Should Advocates Do?

Get the word out about this change! It is especially important that organizations who serve childless adults with little income (e.g. homeless shelters, food pantries, free health clinics, etc.) spread the word. The Center for Civil Justice has developed flyers in English and Spanish which can be faxed or emailed to you for copying. Contact the Food Stamp Helpline, fshelpcoord@ccj-mi.org or 1-800-481-4989 to receive this information. Advocates should warn clients that FIA will still be keeping track of the months that the client works, volunteers, or participates in employment training classes in case the waiver is not renewed for some or all of the state starting March 1, 2005. This means if a client has used up his or her 3 months by that time, Food Stamp could be terminated at that time. In such circumstances, the former recipient would still have the right to "earn" his or her way back onto the program following a month of volunteering, classes or employment.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients who receive Food Stamps do not need to do anything. Their food stamps will automatically be extended as long as the client remains eligible, reports changes, and recertifies. Clients who lost Food Stamps due to the time limit should reapply as soon as possible. CCJ's Food Stamp Helpline is available to answer questions about the application process. Clients who are concerned about losing their Food Stamps in March 2005, may wish to continue to volunteer or attend classes just in case the waiver is not renewed in their county.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types 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 web site (http://MI.LawHelp.org) or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.