Personal tools

Issue Alert - 12-11-01 - Revised 12/11/12

Document Actions
Date:

Nov 07, 2012

Program Area:

All Department of Human Services (DHS)-administered programs that require verification(s)

Issue Summary:

DHS caseworkers must provide more specific information and a reference to policy in the form Notice of Case Action sent when a case is denied or terminated for failure to provide requested verification(s).

Persons Affected:

All applicants and recipients who receive a Notice of Case Action of denial or termination for failure to provide requested verification(s).

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice
320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607
(989) 755-3120, (800) 724-7441
(989) 755-3558 Fax
E-mail: info@ccj-mi.org

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


Background

FAP applicants and recipients in particular are being sent vague, unsubstantiated Notices of Case Action (Notices) from DHS that have the following defects: (1) They do not say what was not verified or what’s still needed; and (2) They do not give the DHS policy manual basis for the denial or termination based on the specific verification(s) needed. Currently, the standard, automated Bridges computer-generated form Notice does not have a field for what was not verified, and usually generates only a basic, general policy manual basis, if anything. Due to these inadequate Notices, clients do not know what to do to fix the verification problem, or what the policy basis was for the denial for lack of verification(s). However, putting this information in the Notice is already required by Bridges Administrative Manual (BAM) 115, p 18 and BAM 220, pp 1-2 (for FAP).

Without the required information, households might simply reapply for benefits, delaying their eligibility for benefits and possibly the amount of benefits (or, for Medicaid, coverage) they receive, when they could have used the correct and complete information to challenge the denial or termination through a hearing request, or, for FAP only, to cure the lack of verification(s) within time periods stated in the Notice, without having to reapply.

What's Happening?

On October 9, 2012, DHS released a Field Office Administration Memorandum (FOA 2012-42) restating existing policy that has not been followed. Download Memo Here (PDF). DHS is working on an automated fix.  However, in the meantime, for ALL DHS-administered programs that require verification(s) (FAP, FIP, Medicaid, etc.), specialists/caseworkers must manually add the following information to the denial or termination Notice for failure to verify:  exactly what was not verified from the form DHS-3503 Verification Checklist, the correct and specific DHS policy manual reference citation that is the basis for the denial or termination for lack of verification(s), and “the appropriate comment,” apparently to be placed within the form field called “specialist comments.”  FOA Memo, pp 1, 2.

The Memo indicates that the category of verification not provided by the client should be added to the Notice from the “Verification” column of the Checklist, and that care should be taken to identify on the Notice the particular verification document(s) that were not provided.  For example, “vehicle ownership” might need to be verified and should be listed on the Notice, but the particular example document that also must be listed on the Notice might be “vehicle registration.”  If there are multiple persons in the household or group who needed to verify information, the specific person must also be identified.

What Should Advocates Do?

  1. Educate clients and community organizations about this change.
  2. Help clients ask for a Notice that contains the information required by the FOA Memo if their Notice does not tell what information has not been verified or is missing, or does not tell which BEM or BAM Item requires the verification(s). Encourage families to bring up the Memo to their specialists should they receive a faulty denial or termination Notice for failure to verify.
  3. Let CCJ know about families who do not receive a proper Notice according to the FOA Memo. Please call or refer clients to CCJ at our Flint office Helpline, if they receive inadequate FAP, FIP, Medicaid, etc. notices. The Helpline number is (800) 481-4989. CCJ will want to see the Notice the client received, so if you can assist clients with faxing the notice to CCJ, that would be helpful too.
  4. Help clients work with their specialists to “cure” the verification problem immediately (within the specified time period) when their cases are denied or terminated, so clients can get their benefits as soon as possible.
  5. Help clients request hearings if their cases or benefits are wrongfully denied or terminated for an alleged failure to verify (especially if DHS has not provided adequate Notice as required by the FOA Memo).
  6. Help clients request a hearing if DHS does not re-open the initial application or application for redetermination and provide benefits as required by BAM 115, p 18; BAM 220 pp 1-2; 7 CFR 273.14(e)(2); and 7 CFR 273.2(h)(2)(i)(A) (for FAP).
  7. Help clients find legal advice if they request a hearing (see below).

What Should Clients Do?

  1. Turn in verifications for your benefits (FAP, FIP, Medicaid, etc.) application when you are asked to do so by DHS. Do not ignore these requests and make sure you understand when verifications are due. Keep a record of what, how, and when you submit verifications to DHS. Always keep copies and write in the log book at DHS exactly what you are dropping off. Ask your caseworker for help if you cannot get the requested verification(s), do not understand what is needed, or if there is not enough time to get the verification(s) between when they are requested and when they are due. If you cannot reach your caseworker, contact the supervisor.
  2. Keep the envelope that your Verification Checklist letter comes in, as well as the envelopes for all DHS correspondence, so you know the date it was actually mailed. (Remember to keep the correspondence itself also.) Write on the envelope the date that you actually receive correspondence, so you will remember the date.
  3. Seek an advocate or legal advice if you are sent a Notice that your benefits case is going to be denied or terminated due to a failure to verify. Pay special attention if the Notice does not say what you failed to verify or what is needed, does not list a DHS Policy Manual reference (look for a “BAM” or “BEM” number), or if the Notice does not say you can still submit verification(s) within 30 days and not have your case closed.
  4. If you receive a Notice with these problems, use the Memo to show your specialist that the Notice is not adequate. Ask for a proper Notice.
  5. Call CCJ if you get an improper Notice. You can call our toll-free Helpline at (800) 481-4989.
  6. Read your Notices carefully. If your benefits are ending, you have the right to request a hearing, and you should show the Memo to the judge at that hearing. Be sure to submit your hearing request within the deadline given in your Notice (90 days from the date the notice was sent). In some cases you will be able to keep your current level of benefits if you request a hearing before an early deadline stated in the letter (usually 10-12 days from the date the notice is sent). However, if you lose at the hearing, you might owe DHS any benefits you were not entitled to. Seek legal help if you request a hearing.
  7. If you want to get your benefits back after your case is denied or terminated, you can also reapply to preserve your rights.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at MichiganLegalHelp.org. You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.
Donate Now!
Access to Justice Donation button