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Issue Alert - 04-03-05

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Date:

Apr 01, 2004

Issue Summary:

Changes in processing shelter and utility expenses

Persons Affected:

Persons receiving food stamps who either pay shelter expenses in advance or who share household utility expenses but their name is not on the bill.

For More Information:

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


Background

Food Assistance Program (FAP) PEM 554

What's Happening?

FIA will now pro-rate shelter expenses that are paid in advance across several months. FIA will also deduct heat and utility expenses for people who say they share utility expenses for where they live, even if their name is not on the bill. SHELTER EXPENSESFIA issued a clarification regarding families who pay their shelter expenses in advance. The policy has been clarified to state that these families should continue to have the ongoing shelter expense considered in their food stamp budget for those months. For example, if a family pays $900 in advance rent for Jan-Mar, the FAP budget should use $300 in shelter expenses for those three months.HEAT AND UTILITY EXPENSESFIA has changed their verification policy for clients who share utility expense but whose name is not on the bill. Caseworkers are only required to use the statement of the client that they share responsibility for the expense and a copy of the bill to verify that the service address is the address where the client is living. The caseworkers should consider the expense as part of the client's food stamp budget.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates who advise clients regarding food stamp applications should note the changes and advise clients accordingly.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients who have difficulty regarding this or any other food stamp problem should call the food stamp helpline at (800) 481-4989 or any legal aid office.

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.