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Issue Alert - 04-12-03

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Date:

Dec 17, 2004

Issue Summary:

FIA received a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission to help restore service for FIA clients whose energy accounts have been closed because of non-payment

Persons Affected:

Clients who are currently receiving the Family Independence Program (FIP), Food Assistance Program(FAP) or Social Security Income (SSI) whose energy accounts have been closed for non-payment.

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

State Emergency Relief (SER)

What's Happening?

FIA has received a Low Income Energy Efficiency Fund (LIEEF) grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission. FIA will use part of the funds to suppliment its SER Energy program and LIHEAP-Direct Program. FIA will use the remainder of the funds for a energy restoration program to assist FIP, FAP, and SSI recipients who have accounts with DTE Energy and Consumers Powers and whose accounts have been closed because of payment arrearages. DTE Energy and Consumers Powers will identify all of its clients who have closed accounts. The list is then compared at FIA automatically to a list of FIP, FAP and SSI recipients. FIA will send the payment directly to the providers to pay the recipients account.How the Program will work:1) DTE Energy and Consumers Power will identify all its customer's accounts that are in a "closed" status and forward the list to FIA.2) FIA will compare this list to a list of current FIP, FAP or SSI recipients. FIA will return to the provider the list of "matched" names.3) The provider will contact each name on the list to see if the client wants the account paid (restored). The provider will return a list to FIA of clients who wish to have their accounts restored.4) FIA will run a final match against the database and compute the payment amount. 5) FIA will pay 75% of the total amount due on the account. The providers will pay the remaining 25% due on the account. 6) The providers will put the client on a payment plan. FIP recipients will be automatically enrolled in the vendor program if their FIP grant permits it. If the client makes 5 consecutive payments, the provider will credit the client's account with another match payment. 7) FIA will send notification letters to the client for each payment made. Payments from the LIEEF fund will NOT count toward the SER fiscal year cap. Payments will not be made for families where the grantee is not in the FAP group (a "kids only" group) or where the FIP grantee is a minor (underage) parent.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should be aware of the program and make their clients aware of the program and the benefits of vendoring or staying on the provider payment plan.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should also be aware of the program and the benefits of vendoring or staying on the provider payment plan.

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.