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Issue Alert - 07-10-03

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Oct 06, 2007

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP)

Issue Summary:

Beginning October 1, 2007, DHS FIP is limited to 48 months in an individual’s lifetime, but only certain months are counted and an extension may be available

Persons Affected:

FIP recipients who are required to participate in Jobs, Education and Training (JET)

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:

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


The Michigan Social Welfare Act, as amended in 2006, only allows an individual to receive FIP for 48 months in a lifetime after September 30, 2007.  MCLA 400.57r.  However, not all months of FIP receipt are counted toward the lifetime limit and a 12 month extension of the limit is available in certain circumstances. MCLA 400.57p and .57r. 

Months in which a mandatory JET participant is prohibited from receiving FIP (“sanctioned”) because  he or she quit a job, was fired for misconduct or absenteeism, failed to participate in assigned work first (JET) activities, or failed to comply with his or her Family Self-Sufficiency Plan (FSSP) ARE counted toward the 48 month time limit.  MCLA 400.57g(13).

What's Happening?

The Department of Human Services has issued policy effective October 1, 2007, to implement the 48-month lifetime limit on FIP.  The policy is contained in Program Administrative Manual (PAM) 102, available online at 

DHS sent a notice regarding the time limits to all FIP recipients in September 2007.  The notice does NOT clearly explain that the time limits only apply to mandatory Work First/JET participants and thus does not apply to children under age 16, etc.


Individuals who are not required to participate in JET cannot be barred from receiving FIP based on the 48 month time limit.  This includes children under age 16 and adults who are deferred/exempt from Work First/JET, even if they previously received 48 countable months of FIP.


DHS will not count any month in which the individual satisfies any ONE of the following criteria:

  1. Received FIP before October 1, 2007,
  1. Is deferred (exempt) from Work First/JET (PEM 230A),
  1. Is a victim of domestic violence (Note:  the Social Welfare Act, MCLA 400.57p(1)(d) provides that a month will not count if any FIP requirement has been waived for the individual pursuant to MCLA 400.56i(1)(c), which provides that DHS must “In accordance with a determination of good cause, waive certain program requirements of the family independence program … where compliance with those requirements would make it more difficult for individuals receiving assistance to escape domestic violence or would unfairly penalize individuals who are or have been victimized by domestic violence or individuals who are at risk of further domestic violence.”  Thus, under the statute, the individual does not have to show she or he is actually experiencing domestic violence in the month at issue.  However, the individual may have to show that DHS has waived a FIP requirement on account of the past or present domestic violence (see, e.g.,  PEM 230A regarding deferrals based on domestic violence).  

  2. Is employed for any number of hours during the month and meeting the requirements of his or her FSSP   (Note: there is no minimum number of hours required for a recipient to be “employed”),
  1. Receives Extended FIP (EFIP - See PEM  519),
  1. Lives in a county that does not have a JET program
  1. Lives in a county that has an unemployment rate at least 25% above the statewide unemployment rate  (The workers will have this information on their computers) 


A FIP recipient who uses up his or her 48 months of FIP will qualify for an extension of up to 12 months if he or she satisfies ALL of the following criteria:

1.     Is meeting all the requirements of his or her FSSP,

2.     Has not received more than 2 employment-related FIP penalties since April 1, 2007 (Note: the recipient has to have “received” the penalty.  Therefore, a first instance of noncompliance that is excused after the recipient agrees to, and does, comply with their FSSP assignment should not be counted in determining whether the individual can qualify for an extension, because the recipient does not receive a penalty in that instance ),

3.     Has not received an employment related FIP penalty from DHS in the previous 12 months, AND

4.     Is prevented from being employment due to labor market conditions or other barriers to employment.

What Should Advocates Do?

  1. Make sure clients understand the time limits and the circumstances under which a month of FIP receipt will not count
  1. Encourage clients to find, report, and verify employment of at least one hour per month  if they are not deferred or experiencing domestic violence
  1. Encourage clients who are experiencing domestic violence to report the violence to their DHS caseworker
  1. Assist clients in proving that they should be deferred, when appropriate

What Should Clients Do?

  1. Seek legal advice immediately if you believe you should be deferred from Work First/JET but are not deferred.  (See “Finding Help” below.)
  1. Try to arrange for at least one hour per month of employment and report it to DHS.  The work could be babysitting, yard work, etc.  but remember that you must also comply with the assigned activities on your FSSP in order for a month of FIP to be excluded from the 48 month calculation.
  1. Report domestic violence to your DHS caseworker.

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

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