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Issue Alert - 04-05-02

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Date:

Jun 01, 2004

Issue Summary:

Food Stamp recipients whose heat is included in their rent, and who receive the Michigan home heating tax credit, may be eligible for more benefits

Persons Affected:

Food stamp applicants and recipients whose heat is included in their rent but who have applied for or receive a home heating tax credit

For More Information:

Consumers/clients: 1-800-481-4989 - Food Stamp Helpline (operated by CCJ)


Background

Food Stamps

What's Happening?

Recent reviews of Food Stamp cases in Michigan indicate that some caseworkers are failing to give the standard heating utility allowance to Food Stamp applicants who say on their application that they have requested or received a home heating tax credit. This results in lower allowances for the food stamp household.

What Should Advocates Do?

1. Check to be sure that people who apply for home heating credits receive a utility allowance appropriate for households that pay for heat. 2. Advise people whose heat is included in their rent, and who are applying for a home heating credit, to inform their caseworker that they have done so and to be sure they receive the appropriate utility allowance.

What Should Clients Do?

1. Clients should be encouraged to apply for home heating credits when they are eligible. A copy of the 2003 home heating tax credit form can be found at (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MI-1040CR7_81085_7.pdf) A copy of the instructions is available at (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/MI-1040CR7_book_81090_7.pdf)2. Clients who appear eligible for a home heating credit or who receive it, and who do not have heat in their own name, should be told to be sure to check their FIA papers to see whether they receive the standard utility allowance for households paying heat (currently $378 per month). The utility allowance is usually stated on the budget paper that tells the client how many food stamps she will receive in a month. 3. Clients who reported on their application that they asked for or were eligible for a home heating credit, and who did not receive the appropriate utility allowance should ask for a correction of this underpayment. If no correction is made, the client should ask for a hearing and seek legal help.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices 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 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.