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Issue Alert - 08-10-03

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Oct 07, 2008

Program Area:

Medicaid (MA), Food Assistance Program (FAP), State Disability Assistance (SDA), Family Independence Program (FIP), Child Day Care (CDC), and Adult Medical Program (AMP)

Issue Summary:

Child Support arrearages received by a parent for an adult child or child no longer living in the home are considered income of the parent

Persons Affected:

Applicants for, and recipients of, the programs listed above

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


Under the Department of Human Services (DHS) policy in Program Eligibility Manual (PEM)_ Item 500, child support payments generally are considered to be income to the child for whom the support is paid.  This can be particularly important when determining a parent’s eligibility for Medicaid, because a child’s income cannot be counted when determining Medicaid eligibility for the child’s parent(s) or sibling(s) (except under the Low Income Family (LIF) Medicaid category).

The DHS PEM is available online at

What's Happening?

Beginning October 1, 2008, DHS policy states, for FIP, SDA, CDC, and FAP, “Child support payments received by a custodial party for an adult child or a child no longer living in the home, are unearned income for the payee as long as the money is not forwarded to the child.  ”For MA and AMP, DHS policy now states  - “Arrearage payments received by a parent for an adult child, or a child no longer living in the home, are considered unearned income for the parent.”  PEM 500 p. 9.

What Should Advocates Do?

Ensure the new policy is applied correctly.

Inform clients that the child support paid for an adult child or a child who is not in the home will not affect their FIP., SDA, CDC, or FAP if they forward the money to the child (and, for FAP, the child is not a mandatory  group member, see  PEM 212).   

Ensure that current support payments (not arrearages) are treated as income to the child – not the parent – in Medicaid cases.

What Should Clients Do?

Seek legal advice if your benefits under any programs are cut off or reduced as the result of this policy change.  

If you have a question or problem regarding your Food Assistance Program (FAP or food stamps) grant, contact the Food and Nutrition Helpline at (800) 481-4989.

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.