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Issue Alert - 10-11-01

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Date:

Nov 08, 2010

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP)

Issue Summary:

DHS has (again) revised its policy and procedures on exemptions (deferrals) from Jobs Education Training (JET) requirements for persons with disabilities

Persons Affected:

FIP applicants or recipients with disabilities, especially those who have cognitive or learning disabilities; chronic and uncontrolled mental illness, or physical problems limiting ability to do routine manual labor

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

Most adult FIP applicants and recipients (and some teens not in school) must participate in work-related activities through the Jobs Education and Training (JET) program. Under state law, FIP applicants or recipients are exempt from participation in JET if they are “suffering from a physical or mental impairment that meets federal supplemental security income disability standards, except that no minimum duration is required”. Under new subsections effective April 2007 (when the penalties for noncompliance with JET became much more damaging) the following individuals who are determined to be “severely restricted in his or her ability to participate in employment or training activities” also are exempt: 1. An individual with low intellectual capacity or learning disabilities that impede comprehension and prevent success in acquiring basic reading, writing, and math skills, including, but not limited to, an individual with an intelligence quotient less than 80. (Coded by DHS as LI) 2. An individual with documented chronic mental health problems that cannot be controlled through treatment or medication. (Coded by DHS as CM) 3. An individual with physical limitations on his or her ability to perform routine manual labor tasks, including, but not limited to, bending or lifting, combined with intellectual capacity or learning disabilities. (Coded by DHS as PL) Individuals in these three new groups do not have to prove that their disabilities meet Supplemental Security (SSI) disability standards. MCLA 400.57f(3)(i)(V) – (vii).

What's Happening?

DHS has issued revised policy on deferrals from JET, effective October 1, 2010. The bulletin announcing the new policy http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/BP-2010-017.pdf and the policy itself http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/bem/230A.pdf are available online. (DHS bulletins and policy manuals are available on-line at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/html/ or through a link at www.mplp.org). The revised policy requires the Medical Review Team (MRT) to review all cases where the work eligible individual is claiming a disability that is expected to last 90 days or more, or states that he or she is unable to participate in JET for 90 days or more due to a mental or physical condition, with two exceptions. People with pregnancy-related disabilities are not referred to the MRT and people who are blind or who have visual impairments are referred to the Michigan Commission on the Blind (COB) for a consultation that may or may not result in a subsequent review by the MRT, as explained below, The revised policy clarifies that individuals must be deferred while their disability is being evaluated. The individual will be asked to provide a DHS-49 Medical Examination Report form from their physician, unless the only impairment is visual, in which case the DHS 49-I is required instead. For people with visual impairments, the COB completes a consultation report form, which may result in the following: 1. If the individual failed to show up for an appointment with the COB, he or she is sent a notice of noncompliance which may result in sanctions. 2. If the individual wants rehabilitation services he or she is assigned to those services instead of JET. 3. If the individual indicate they are able to work, they are referred to JET. 4. If the individual decides not to pursue rehabilitation services and indicates inability to work, the case is referred to the MRT for evaluation. For cases evaluated by MRT, the caseworker must note all limitations identified by the MRT and make any reasonable accommodations necessary for those limitations. Depending on the MRT decision, the following may occur: 1. If the MRT decided the person is disabled and Potentially Eligible for SSI or RSDI, the individual is coded as LI, deferred from JET, and required to apply for or pursue SSI/RSDI disability benefits. 2. If the MRT decides the person is Work Ready, the individual must be assigned to JET 3. If the MRT decides the individual is Work Ready with Limitations, the individual might be required to participate in JET or might be deferred and assigned to activities through DHS. The policy does not clearly explain (a) WHO decides whether the individual should be served by DHS or JET when he or she is “work ready with limitations”, (b) WHAT CRITERIA are used to make that decision, and (c) WHEN that decision is made. At one point, the policy seems to indicate that a person who meets the LI, CM, or PL criteria but not the SSI/IN criteria will be referred to JET and must be referred back to DHS if the MWA/JET agency decides it cannot serve the individual. At another point it seems to indicate that the NRT makes the decision. CCJ is trying to get further clarification from DHS about the procedures and criteria that will be followed in determining whether a deferral from JET will be granted for an individual with learning disabilities or cognitive impairments, uncontrolled mental illness, or a combination of physical and cognitive impairments. When an individual in one of these three categories is served by DHS, policy requires 1. individuals coded as LI participate in school, literacy programs, or tutoring if available locally 2. individuals coded as CM participate in a treatment plan prepared by their medical provider 3. Individual coded as PL participate in treatment recommended by their physicians. DHS can assign other approved activities.

What Should Advocates Do?

Help clients request exemption/deferral from JET if they meet the criteria for exemption. Help clients gather verification, or request DHS help with verification, of disabilities that should make then exempt from JET. Share information with CCJ and other advocates about how decisions are being made in cases where an individual has cognitive or learning disabilities, uncontrolled mental illness, or a combination of physical and cognitive impairments.

What Should Clients Do?

Seek legal advice if you are assigned to JET and are unable to successfully participate because of disabilities. Seek legal advice if you receive a notice of noncompliance. Be sure to attend any meetings set to discuss noncompliance and explain your mental or physical limitations. Try to get legal advice before the meeting is held. 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.