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Issue Alert - 09-04-05

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Date:

Apr 01, 2009

Program Area:

Medicaid and MIChild

Issue Summary:

$25 per week in Unemployment Insurance benefits must be disregarded in determining Medicaid eligibility and deductible (spenddown) amounts

Persons Affected:

Unemployment Insurance recipients, and their spouses and children, who have applied for, or been terminated from, Medicaid or MIChild

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

Many unemployed workers in Michigan qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to support themselves and their families while they are looking for work.  UI benefits generally are treated as unearned income when determining eligibility and payment amounts in public benefits programs administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Community Health (DCH).

What's Happening?

Under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) (also known as the federal stimulus bill), unemployed workers in Michigan who qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits began to receive an additional $25 per week in UI starting at the end of February 2009.

Under ARRA, the $25 per week in UI benefits cannot be counted when determining eligibility for Medicaid and MIChild. See PL 111-5 Section 2002(h).

As of the date this Alert is being issued, DCH and DHS have not updated their policy or their computer system to exclude the $25 per week increase in UI benefits under ARRA.   This means that some individuals may be unlawfully

  1. denied Medicaid or MIChild, or
  2. terminated from Medicaid or MiIChild, or
  3. assigned a higher Medicaid deductible, because the extra UI is included when DHS and DCH count their income.

What Should Advocates Do?

Let UI recipients know that they – and their spouses and children -- may qualify for Medicaid  or MIChild benefits and encourage them to apply for anyone in the household who is:

·           a parent or a close relative acting as a parent for a child (under 18 or a high school student expected to graduate before turning 20)

·           under age 21

·           age 65 or older

·           disabled (meeting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability standards)

Refer UI recipients who are denied or terminated from Medicaid or MIChild to a legal advocate (See “Finding Legal Help” below) who can check to see if they were denied, terminated, or assigned a deductible that is too high, because the state is not excluding the $25 per week UI increase.

Share this information with other agencies or organizations that work with unemployed workers.  

Legal advocates should assist UI recipients in pursuing both future benefits and back benefits under the Medicaid and MIChild program if they have been wrongfully denied or terminated. 

Contact the Center for Civil Justice (see top of the alert for contact info) if you have questions about legal options to ensure state implementation of ARRA.

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.