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Issue Alert - 10-01-05

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Jan 05, 2010

Program Area:


Issue Summary:

Michigan’s Secretary of State has issued policy on granting “good cause” fee waivers for individuals unable to pay the $10 fee for a state personal identification card.

Persons Affected:

Individuals who need a state photo ID card and cannot pay the $10 fee

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:

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax


Under state law, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) is required to waive the payment of the $10 fee for an official state personal identification (PID) card for individuals who meet certain criteria in the statute, as well as for “a person who presents other good cause for a fee waiver.” MCLA 28.292(14).   This law applies only to personal ID cards, and not to drivers license fees.


Following several informal efforts to encourage the SOS to issue policies implementing the good cause waiver requirement, the Center for Civil Justice filed a lawsuit to enforce the law.   In response to the lawsuit, the SOS has issued written procedures for good cause fee waivers, and a notice about State ID fee waivers to be posted in SOS branch offices.

What's Happening?

A summary of the new policy has been posted on the SOS website.,1607,7-127-1627_8668_9059-228283--,00.html


A memo to SOS branch offices dated December 17, 2009 (MEMO #09-06) contains the SOS good cause fee waiver policy.  The policy requires SOS branch offices to waive the fee for issuing or renewing a Personal ID card for individuals who provide a Department of Human Services eligibility notice showing that the individual is currently eligible for State Disability Assistance (SDA) or Family Independence Program (FIP) benefits.  The DHS notice must show that the individual is requesting the waiver within their approved eligibility or benefit period. 


The policy also states other individuals may qualify for good cause fee waivers.  Individuals who do not have an SDA or FIP eligibility notice must provide written information about their “good cause” for a fee waiver and attach any written documentation of the good cause.   Fee waivers for

individuals claiming good cause under this process must be approved by the SOS Exceptions Unit in Lansing. 


If a fee waiver is denied by the Exceptions Unit, the individual may appeal to the SOS Legal and Regulatory Services Administration (LRSA) in Lansing.


Individuals will not qualify for a fee waiver unless they have the necessary documents to support renewal or issuance of a personal ID card (such as proof of citizenship, residence, and identity). 


CCJ will provide interested persons with a copy of the memo and a form drafted by the Center for Civil Justice to assist low income individuals who need a fee waiver but are not receiving FIP or SDA.(See the top of the alert for contact information). These will also be available at, a new state ID website for agencies and advocates made possible by the Safe Communities Collaborative in Detroit.  (Watch for an issue alert by February).


CCJ is interested in hearing from advocates about whether low income clients receive fee waivers and, if not, why not.   Please share your experiences with us.  You may email Jackie Doig at


CCJ will be continuing to advocate for clear standards and notices for good cause fee waivers. 

What Should Advocates Do?

1.     Contact CCJ for a copy of the policy or waiver request forms

2.     Inform clients about the new policy

3.     Help clients request fee waivers

4.     Let CCJ know about your clients’ experiences with fee waiver requests.


CCJ will be posting this information to a special state ID website that should be available late February at 

What Should Clients Do?

1.      Request a good cause fee waiver if you are unable to pay the $10 fee for a state ID.

2.      Contact CCJ if you would like a copy of the form you can use to request a fee waiver.

Seek legal help if SOS denies your request for fee waiver. See below for information about finding legal help.

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

You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.