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Issue Alert - 08-10-08

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Date:

Oct 07, 2008

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP), State Disability Assistance (SDA), and Refugee Assistance Program (RAP)

Issue Summary:

DHS has revised its asset policy for FIP, SDA, and RAP to allow eligibility during the month the applicants assets are under the limit

Persons Affected:

FIP, SDA, and RAP recipients and applicants who have assets greater than $3000

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

Part of the eligibility criteria for FIP, SDA, and RAP is that the applicant or recipient must have less than $3,000 in assets.  Because some families would apply for programs in anticipation of exhausting their few remaining assets, DHS would test current and future months for asset eligibility.  Applicants and recipients were not eligible for any assistance for the entire month in which their assets exceeded the $3,000 limit on any day of the month.  

For example, an applicant applies for FIP on September 10th and has over $3,000 in assets on that date.  On October 6th, the applicant reports and verifies that their assets are exhausted, and that they have $0 in assets.  The clients would not be eligible for FIP for September or October because they were over the asset limit.  However, assuming they meet all the other eligibility criteria, the client would be eligible for FIP for November.    

What's Happening?

DHS has revised its policy to state that applicants are eligible for assistance during the month if at any time of the month, there assets are below the asset limit.

Thus, in the example above, the applicant would be eligible for FIP in the month of October as well because their assets fell below $3000 for at least one day in October.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should inform clients of the change in policy.  Advocates should inform clients to report a loss in assets to the caseworker as soon as possible.  Advocates should tell clients to request a hearing and seek legal assistance if they were denied cash assistance because they had too many assets but had reported a decline in assets prior to the denial.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should be aware of the change in policy.  Clients should report a loss in assets to the caseworker as soon as possible.  Clients should seek legal assistance if they were denied cash assistance because they had too many assets but had reported a decline in assets prior to the date of the denial from DHS.

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.