Personal tools

Issue Alert - 08-10-01

Document Actions
Date:

Oct 07, 2008

Program Area:

Food Assistance Program (FAP)

Issue Summary:

Beginning October 1st, food assistance standards and deductions have changed, as have food assistance income limits and allotment amounts.

Persons Affected:

Food assistance recipients and 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

As a result of the 2008 reauthorization of the Farm Bill, the formula for calculating FAP benefits has changed.  These changes will allow more people to receive FAP for the first time.  It will also increase the benefits for current recipients. 

The changes include increased allowances in the calculation for child care, living expenses, as well as an increase in the minimum monthly allotment.  These changes start October 1, 2008.

What's Happening?

The FAP monthly allotment amounts, standard deductions, shelter deductions, and dependent care deductions have changed for FAP recipients and applicants beginning October 1st. 

MONTHLY ALLOTMENT AMOUNTS

The maximum monthly FAP allotments have increased by a few dollars.  The amount depends on the household size and the household’s FAP income.  For example, a single person’s maximum allotment changed from $162 to $176 per month.

MINIMUM MONTHLY ALLOTMENT

The minimum allotment has also increased. After October 1st a person that was receiving a minimum allotment of $10 per month will now receive $14. This change will especially benefit those who have a fixed income and low shelter expenses, which typically are seniors or small households of 1 or 2 persons.

DHS automatically updates eligibility information electronically.  FAP recipients should notice a change in their October allotment amount.   This increase is now indexed for inflation. So the minimum benefit should increase with inflation every October.

The deductions are now as follows:

STANDARD DEDUCTION

The formula that DHS uses to calculate eligibility for food assistance includes a “standard deduction” for living expenses and shelter deductions for housing and utilities.    Michigan must periodically review these deductions/limits and make adjustments.  The Farm bill increased these deductions for the first time in several years.  In the future, they will be indexed for inflation.  The new amounts are:

Group Size/Deduction Amount

1-3 = $135

4 = $138

5 = $163

6 or more = $188

Shelter Deductions

Shelter deductions were increased to reflect the increased costs of shelter and utilities.  The following are the maximum caps allowed in the FAP formula.

Shelter Maximum = $446 (non-senior and non-disabled households only)

Heat and Utility = $550

Non-Heat Electric = $93

Water and/or Sewer = $54

Telephone = $33

Cooking Fuel = $59

Trash/Garbage Removal = $14

DEPENDENT CARE DEDUCTION

The FAP formula allows child care expenses to be considered as part of the eligibility calculation.  The formula is based on the fact that money a family spends on child care is not available to buy food. In the past, these deductions where capped at $175 and $200 per month, depending on the age of the child.  Congress removed the caps as part of the Farm Bill reauthorization, as a recognition that many households spend more of their income of child care. 

DHS will allow the full amount of unreimbursed child care expenses.  This is the amount the FAP group actually pays out of pocket.   However, FAP recipients must provide verification of child care expenses to DHS in order for the full amount to be counted.

These changes should be automatically adjusted for FAP recipients that have already provided verification to DHS of those expenses.    The increase on FAP benefits should be retroactive to October 1st.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should ensure that their FAP clients receive the correct adjustments in their allotments for October.   They should also make clients with high child care expenses aware of the changes and encourage them to report all their child care expenses.  They should also inform seniors and those who had low allotments amounts in the past of the increases.  Advocates can use the on-line calculator at www.foodstamphelp.org should encourage clients to contact the Food and Nutrition Helpline at (800) 481-4989 to see if they are eligible or to verify that their allotments are correct.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should contact the Food and Nutrition Helpline at (800) 481-4989 to see if they might be eligible for changes under the new guideline or to verify their allotments are correct.  They can also check their benefits with the on-line calculator at www.foodstamphelp.org.

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.