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Issue Alert - 08-10-07

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Date:

Oct 15, 2008

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP) and Food Assistance Program (FAP)

Issue Summary:

Effective October 1, 2008, 3- and 12-month disqualifications no longer are imposed on certain families on FIP, but the families may be receive a FIP denial or termination for failure to complete a Family Automated Screening Tool (FAST) or Family Self-sufficiency Plan (FSSP)

Persons Affected:

FIP applicants or recipients who (a) are deferred from JET because they have a child under age 6 who lacks adequate child care or (b) do not receive FIP for themselves (e.g. ineligible grantees, disqualified immigrants)

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

Under section 57d of the Social Welfare Act, MCLA 400.57d, 3- and 12- month FIP disqualifications apply if a FIP recipient, without good cause,

(1) fails to comply with JET (Jobs Education Training program),

(2) fails to comply with “employment and training activities”, or

(3) fails to comply with requirements in his or her Family Self- Sufficiency Plan (FSSP).  

Under section 57g of the Social Welfare Act, MCLA 400.57g, the 3- and 12- month penalties apply only if a FIP recipient

(1)       quits a job,

(2)       is fired for misconduct or absenteeism,

(3)       does not participate in JET activities, or

(4)       does not comply with his or her FSSP

What's Happening?

Beginning October 1, 2008, no 3- or 12- month disqualifications will be applied to a FIP group because of noncompliance by 

(1) Ineligible grantees (such as SSI recipient parents, and non-parent caretakers who choose not to be in the FIP group),

(2) Individuals disqualified because of immigration status, and

(3) Single parents of a child under age 6 for whom appropriate, affordable child care is not available.

because these individuals are not required to participate in employment and training activities, including JET.  See Department of Human Services (DHS) Program Eligibility Manual (PEM) 233A, p. 1-2 (“Noncompliance with Employment and/or Self-sufficiency related Activities – Exception”)  and p. 5 (“Clients Not Penalized”).  

The DHS PEM is available online at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/pem/pem.pdf.

However, if these individuals fail to complete a FAST (Family Automated Screening Tool) or fail to agree to a FSSP (Family Self-Sufficiency Plan) their family’s FIP will be denied or terminated due to “failure to provide requested verification.”) PEM 233A p. 2.   

Note that the denial or termination should not result in any negative consequences for the family’s FAP (Food Assistance Program) because it is not a work-related penalty.  

QUESTIONS REMAIN:

It is not clear

1)    Why DHS is not exempting ALL Non-WEIs (non-Work Eligible Individuals, defined in PEM 228) from participation

2)    Why DHS is not treating the failure to complete a FAST or FSSP as “failure to verify” for ALL clients  (Note that the Social Welfare Act, summarized in the Background, above) only imposes  the 3- and 12- month disqualification penalties when an individual fails to comply with employment and training activities. )

 

What Should Advocates Do?

Ensure the new policy is applied correctly.  

Inform clients who are not subject to penalties that they must complete a FAST and a FSSP to avoid FIP denial or termination.

Consider challenging 3- or 12- month disqualifications if they are (1) imposed on non-WEIs or are (2) based on failure to complete a FAST or FSSP.

What Should Clients Do?

Seek legal advice immediately if you are denied or terminated from FIP.   

Request a hearing if you believe the decision was incorrect.  Assistance will continue at current levels if DHS receives your original, signed hearing BEFORE the date the FIP is supposed to terminate (usually 12 days after the date DHS issues the termination notice).

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.