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Issue Alert - 13-06-06

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Date:

Jun 17, 2013

Program Area:

Food Assistance Program (FAP)

Issue Summary:

A person who is ages 18-49 and is enrolled half-time or more in a post-secondary school is ineligible for the FAP unless s/he meets certain criteria.

Persons Affected:

FAP applicants/recipients who are ages 18-49 and who are enrolled half-time or more in a post-secondary school may be effected.

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

Under the Department of Human Services (DHS) policy in Bridges Eligibility Manual (BEM) 245, Food Assistance Applicant (FAP) applicants and recipients who are in “student status,” are ineligible for FAP, unless they qualify for an exception. 

Definition of Student Status

A person is in student status if s/he is age 18-49 and is either:

1.      enrolled half-time or more in a vocational, trade, business, or technical school that normally requires a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate, OR

enrolled half-time or more in regular curriculum at a college or university that offers degree programs, regardless of whether a diploma is required.

The person remains in student status while attending classes regularly.  Student status continues during official school vacations and periods of extended illness.  Student status does not continue if the student is suspended (schools determine suspensions) or does not intend to register for the next school term (excluding the summer term). 

Exceptions: Students Who Can Receive FAP

In order for a person in student status to be eligible for the FAP, he or she must be one of the following:

1.      Receiving Family Independence Program (FIP)cash assistance,

2.      Enrolled in an institution of higher education as a result of participation in:

a.       A JTPA program, or

b.      A program under section 236 of the Trade Readjustment Act of 1974, or

c.       Another state or local government employment and training program.

3.      Physically or mentally unfit for employment,

4.      Employed for at least 20 hours per week and paid for such employment,

5.      Self-employed for at least 20 hours/week and earning weekly income at least equivalent to the federal minimum wage multiplied by 20 hours,

6.      Participating in an on-the-job training program.  A person is considered to be participating in an on-the-job training program only during the period of time the person is being trained by the employer,

7.      Participating in a state or federally-funded work study program (funded in full or in part under Title IV-C of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended) during the regular school year,

8.      Providing more than half of the physical care of a group member under the age of six,

9.      Providing more than half of the physical care of a group member age six through 11 and the local office has determine adequate child care is not available to either enable the person to attend class and work at least 20 hours/week or participate in a state of federally-funded work study program during the regular school year, or

 10.  A single parents enrolled full-time in an institution of higher education who cares for a dependent under age 12.  This includes a person who does not live with his or her spouse, who has parental control over a child who does not live with his or her natural, adoptive, or stepparent. 

What's Happening?

A June 1, 2013 update to the policy clarifies that student status will be verified at application, redetermination, and when the FAP recipient reports a change in student status.

The policy is located at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/bem/245.pdf.  

What Should Advocates Do?

1.      Educate clients and community organizations about these changes.

2.      When appropriate, help clients present information at administrative hearings.

3.      Share information with CCJ and other advocates about the effects of this program.

 4.      Refer clients with questions about student status and FAP eligibility to the CCJ Food Assistance Helpline at (800) 481-4989.

What Should Clients Do?

1.      Call the CCJ Food Assistance Helpline at (800) 481-4989 if you have questions about student status and FAP eligibility.

2.      Get legal advice if you are told that your application has been denied or your FAP is being reduced or terminated.

 3.      Read your notices carefully.  If your application has not been approved, or if your case is closing or has already closed, you have the right to request a hearing.  If DHS receives your request by the deadline given in the notice, you will continue to receive your benefits at the same level until the judge issues a Hearing Decision.  (But, remember that if you lose at the hearing, you may have to pay DHS back any/all money that you got but were not supposed to.)

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.