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Issue Alert - 09-04-04

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Date:

Apr 10, 2009

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP) and Refugee Assistance Program (RAP)

Issue Summary:

Parents who are deferred from JET to care for a disabled family member will have to provide verification of need to be home to care for a disabled family member even if that family member has RSDI or SSI, and those caretakers who chose to volunteer for JET will be subject to sanctions if they fail to attend JET.

Persons Affected:

FIP recipients who are deferred from JET to care for a disabled family member but chose to volunteer for the program

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

Parents may be deferred from the Jobs, Education, and Training (JET) program if they are caring for a disabled spouse or child.  In order to qualify for the deferral, the individual must provide verification from the doctor that:

1.     The disability of the spouse/child needing care and the extent or duration of the disability, and

2.     the need for the spouse/parent to be in the home to provide care, and

3.     the spouse/parent cannot engage in an employment-related activity due to the extent of the care required.

FIP household members in this category may be deferred from JET, but they are still required to participate in any activity outlined in the Family Self-Sufficiency Plan (FSSP) or face possible sanctions.

For more information, see DHS Program Eligibility Manual 230A at: 

http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/html/

What's Happening?

DHS has issued two new clarifications to policy.

First, the family member who is requesting a deferral from JET to care for a disabled family

member must provide verification from the doctor of all the items listed above, even if the disabled family member receives RSDI or SSI.  Previously, the family member only had to provide proof of the receipt of RSDI or SSI.

Second, DHS has issued policy regarding parents who are deferred to care for a disabled family member but who choose to also volunteer for JET.  DHS encourages individuals to participate in JET if they can, however, even an individual voluntarily participates in JET, THEY CAN STILL BE SANCTIONED FOR NON-COMPLIANCE!  Thus, if a FIP recipient agrees to participate in JET activities for 10 hours a week and fails to participate for 10 hours during any week, they may be subject to sanctions.  Therefore, if the participant is having trouble meeting their JET requirement, they should contact their caseworker immediately and tell the caseworker that they can no longer participate in the program before they become non-compliant.  Recipients should follow-up with a written letter to the caseworker regarding the conversation so that the recipient has a record. 

What Should Advocates Do?

Make clients aware of the new rules.    Advise clients to contact the caseworker immediately if they are having problems getting the required documentation.  If they volunteer for JET and having difficulty meeting their JET requirement, they should contact the caseworker immediately, before they become non-compliant, if possible.

What Should Clients Do?

Clients should be aware that they may have to provide additional documentation for the caseworker regarding the need to be home to care for a disabled family member.  Contact the caseworker if you are having difficulty getting the additional information.  Also, contact legal services if you believe you were wrongly denied a deferral from JET.

Be aware of the possible sanction risks if you volunteer for the JET program.  If you have difficulty meeting your JET assignment, contact your caseworker immediately before you become non-compliant.  Contact legal services (below), if  you receive a notice of noncompliance, a negative action notice, or notice of a triage meeting, or if you are threatened with a possible FIP sanction.  If you have been terminated or sanctioned, you should request a hearing and contact legal services.  If you request a hearing within 10 days of the date of the termination letter (case action notice), you will not lose benefits while your hearing is pending.

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.