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Issue Alert - 07-04-03

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Date:

Apr 04, 2007

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP) and State Disability Assistance (SDA)

Issue Summary:

For new applications, FIP and SDA benefits will not be paid for pay periods prior to the pay period in which the application is 30 days old, beginning April 2007

Persons Affected:

New FIP and SDA applicants

For More Information:

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

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


Background

Family Independence Program (FIP) and State Disability Assistance (SDA) benefits are paid for two half month pay periods: the 1st through the 15th of the month, and the 16th through the end of the month.

In the past, FIP or SDA benefits would be paid for the pay period following the pay period in which the individual applied, if proof of eligibility had been submitted and the caseworker was able to process the application during that pay period.  For example, a person who applied for FIP or SDA on May 5th (during the first pay period of May) and submitted proof that he or she was elgible for FIP or SDA during the month of May could be approved to begin receiving FIP or SDA for the second pay period in May.

The past policy was consistent with Department of Human Services (DHS) administrative rules.  Under the administrative rules for the FIP program,
"The …[DHS] shall begin assistance benefits not earlier than  the half-month pay period after the pay period that includes the application filing date, and not later than the pay period in which the application becomes 30 calendar days old, if the group is eligible for that pay period. If the application becomes 30 calendar days old and the group has not met the eligibility requirements, then the …[DHS]shall begin assistance for the pay period in which all eligibility requirements are met."
Mich. Admin Code Rule 400.3110. Under DHS administrative rules for SDA,

"The earliest that …[DHS] shall begin assistance benefits is the half-month pay period after the pay period that includes the application filing date, if the group is eligible for that pay period. The latest that the …[DHS] shall begin assistance benefits is the pay period in which the application becomes 30 calendar days old, if the group is eligible for that pay period. If the application becomes 30 calendar days old and the group has not met eligibility requirements, then the  …[DHS]  shall begin assistance benefits for the pay period in which all eligibility requirements are met."
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->Mich Admin Code Rule 400.3158.

The Department of Human Services (“DHS”) Program Policy Bulletin announced the new policy in PPB 2007-004, which is available online. New policy is contained in PAM 115, p.17. DHS bulletins and policy manuals are available online at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/html/ or by using the quick link at the Michigan Poverty Law Program (MPLP) website, http://mplp.org/. 

For the bulletin, click on “Bulletin Log” under the Financial Assistance heading. 

For the policies, click on “Program Administration” for PAM. 

What's Happening?

DHS will no longer pay FIP or SDA benefits for any pay period  prior to the pay period in which the application becomes 30 days old.  Benefits will begin even later if the individual is not eligible until a later date. 

Example: (If an individual applies on May 5, the application becomes 30 days old on June 4)during the first pay period in June.  Therefore, her FIP or SDA benefits cannot begin any earlier than the firt pay period in June, even if she submits proof that she met the eligibility requirements for FIP or SDA during the month of May (and could have been paid for the the second half of May under the policy in effect prior to April 1, 2007).

If the proof submitted by the applicant shows that she is not eligible for FIP or SDA in June, but will be in July (for example, her bank account statement shows a balance of more than $3,000 in the beginning of June, but has now dropped below the $3,000 asset limit), her benefits will not begin any earlier than the first pay period in July.

What Should Advocates Do?

  1. Make sure clients are aware of the new policy and that they should be prepared NOT to receive any cash assistance for at least 30 days.
  2. Be sure clients file applications as soon as possible, to get the 30 day period started.
  3. Advise clients that they can protect their application filing date by:
    a. Using the DHS 1171 F filing document, which can be filed while they take the application home and complete it.
   
    b. Filing an incomplete application (must have name, address, birth date and signature) and going back to the DHS office complete the application later.
   
    c. Filing an incomplete application (or filing document) even if they cannot participate in an interview the date they file.  Some DHS office do not offer interviews during all business hours, but they must accept the application form.

What Should Clients Do?

File your application or filing document (DHS 1171F) as early as possible so that benefits will begin as soon as possible.

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 MichiganLegalAid.org. You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.