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Issue Alert - 13-06-07

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Date:

Jun 17, 2013

Program Area:

Family Independence Program (FIP)

Issue Summary:

Effective July 1, 2013, DHS policy states that FIP recipients deferred from Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope. (PATH) due to “establishing incapacity” are receiving “State Funded FIP” that does not count toward the 60-month time limit on FIP, and also are exempt from the 48-month time limit while they are deferred for that reason. “State Time Limit Exemptions” section of BEM 234. DHS time limit policy also states that FIP paid in months prior to 10/01/2006 for both two parent households and recipients with a verified disability lasting longer than 90 days were federally funded.

Persons Affected:

All FIP recipients who are deferred from PATH due to “establishing incapacity.” Certain FIP groups that received FIP prior to 10/01/2006.

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

Family Independence Program (FIP) cash assistance benefits are either federally-funded or state-funded, meaning that the money for the benefits comes wholly or partly from the federal government (“federally funded”) or entirely from the state government (“state funded”), respectively.  There is a 60-month limit on federally-funded FIP benefits, counting months back to October 1996.  “There also is a 48-month limit on FIP received from any source of funding, counting back to October 2007.    For each time limit, there are some exceptions or extensions. 

 Generally, FIP recipients are required to participate in the Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope. (PATH) program as part of the work participation requirements of FIP eligibility, unless they meet the requirements of the work participation program in another way.  However, if a recipient is deferred from participation in the work participation program, that recipient is not required to participate.  One way that a recipient can be deferred is due to the recipient’s verified disability or long-term incapacity lasting longer than 90 days.  (See BEM 230A.) 

 When a FIP recipient claims that they are disabled and are unable to participate in PATH due to a disability or long-term incapacity lasting more than 90 days, the recipient must verify the disability.  Once DHS receives the verification of the disability, the recipient’s information is sent to the Medical Review Team (MRT).  The MRT decides whether they consider the recipient disabled.  The MRT’s decision will determine whether the recipient is required to participate in PATH or the work participation program.

 In certain situations, Michigan uses state-funded money to provide FIP benefits and those months will not count toward the 60-month time limit.    In addition, Some groups that have received 60 or more “federally funded” months on FIP will continue to receive FIP under an “exception” to the time limit.

 The 48-month time limit policy defines exemption months that do not count toward the 48-month time limit. (How­ever, the federal time limit count will continue unless the exemption month is state-funded.)  These exemptions are listed and discussed beginning on page three of BEM 234.  One of the exemptions is being deferred from PATH due to a disability.

What's Happening?

The Department of Human Services (DHS) issued updates to the time limit policy in BEM 234 that took effect June 1, 2013.  The policy is located at http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/olmweb/ex/bem/234.pdf.  The updates include clarifications to two sections of BEM 234: the “State Funded FIP” section, located on page two of the policy, and the “State Time Limit Exemptions” section, located on page three of the policy.  Additionally, a clarification was added regarding countable FIP months prior to October 1, 2006 for certain FIP recipient groups.

Three sections of BEM 234 were updated regarding the PATH deferral reason of “Establishing Incapacity.”

The section on exceptions to the 60-month time limit, on page 2 of BEM 234, was revised effective June 1, 2013 to clarify that a group with a parent deferred from PATH based on “establishing incapacity” may be able to qualify for an exception to the 60 month time limit. (The parent must have been deferred from PATH for an acceptable reason, which now includes “establishing incapacity,”  on January  9, 2013 and in the month for which FIP is being sought.)

 The section explaining which months are “State Funded FIP” and do not count toward the “Federal Time Limit,” beginning on page two of BEM 234, was updated to include a FIP group that has a parent deferred from PATH with a deferral/participation reason in Bridges of “Establishing Incapacity.”  A person is deferred from PATH because he or she is “establishing incapacity” while DHS is waiting for the recipient to provide verification of a long term (more than 90 days) disability and for the Medical Review Team’s decision after verification is received.  See BEM 230A, p.10. Families in which the parent is deferred for that reason are receiving state-funded assistance that should not be counted toward their 60 month time limit.

 The “State Time Limit Exemptions” beginning on page three of BEM 234 were updated to that months on FIP do not count against the 48-month time limit if the recipient is deferred from PATH with the deferral reason of “Establishing Incapacity.”

 Additionally, a clarification was added to BEM 234 to note that months of FIP paid prior to October 1, 2006 were federally-funded for two groups of FIP recipients: (1) two parent households and (2) recipients with a verified disability or “long-term incapacity” lasting longer than 90 days.   FIP paid to those two groups in or after October 2006 were state funded and thus do not count toward the 60-month time limit. 

What Should Advocates Do?

1.      Be alert to clients who believe their months have not been calculated correctly and refer them for legal advice.

2.      Refer clients in Genesee County to the CCJ Family Economic Security project at (810) 244-8044.

3.      Educate clients and community organizations about these changes.

4.      Share information with CCJ and other advocates about the effects of these changes.

5.      When appropriate, help clients request and present information at administrative hearings, and seek legal help to do so (see below). 

What Should Clients Do?

1.   If you live in Genesee County and have questions, call the Center for Civil Justice at 810-244-8044. 

 2.  If you live in any other county and have questions, contact your local Legal Services office (ways of finding legal help are below).  

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.