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Issue Alert - 13-06-10

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Date:

Jun 17, 2013

Program Area:

Food Assistance Program (FAP) and Medicaid (MA)

Issue Summary:

DHS has issued clarifications to its FAP and Medicaid Asset Test policy

Persons Affected:

FAP applicants and recipients and MA recipients

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

On October 1, 2011, DHS implemented an asset test for the food assistance program (FAP).  Prior to that, Michigan had not had a FAP asset test for more than 10 years.  For background on the FAP asset test, see Issue Alert 11-10-06.  Additionally, subsequent changes to the FAP asset test are discussed at Issue Alert 12-01-01.

 

Medicaid (MA) has always had asset tests for some, but not all, eligibility categories. 

What's Happening?

In Bridges Policy Bulletin BPB 2013-011, effective July 1, 2013, DHS has issued several clarifications of asset policy contained in Bridges Eligibility Manual (BEM) 400 that apply to FAP and MA, as well as more detailed definitions of some assets contained in the glossary. 

 1.    Vehicles – applicable to FAP and MA:

a.    The glossary defines an antique car as a vehicle over 44 years old and a classic car as a vehicle between 25 and 44 years old.  BEM 400 at p. 47 requires that the value of antique, classic or custom vehicles must be verified, rather than entering basic information into websites (Kelley Blue Book or NADA) to be used to determine value of other vehicles. 

b.    BEM 400 directs DHS staff to use the lowest trade-in value of vehicles when entering Fair Market Value (FMV) in Bridges.  BEM 400 at pp. 46-47.

 2.   Real property that produces income:  Rental and vacation property is not counted as an asset if the group is renting it to produce income.  (Income is included in income calculations.)  BEM 400 is modified to specifically exclude time-share properties from group assets.  BEM 400 at p. 27.  This applies to FAP only.

 3.   Non-Salable Assets:  For FAP, real property is exempt from being counted as an asset if it is up for sale (continuously, to maintain the exemption) for no more than fair market value, and no “reasonable offer” has been made.  The modification to BEM 400 at p. 11 clarifies that the property may be up for sale by “a real estate company, by owner, etc.”  It appears this addresses problems that have arisen when DHS has refused to exclude assets that are for sale not through a broker or agent, but by the owner.

 Links to the bulletin, policy and glossary that can be used to access the changes before July 1, 2013, follow. 

Bulletin BPB 2013-011:  http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/OLMWeb/exf/BP-2013-011.pdf

BEM 400, effective 7/1/13:  http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/OLMWeb/exf/bem/400.pdf

 BPG Glossary   http://www.mfia.state.mi.us/OLMWeb/exf/bpg/glossary.pdf

What Should Advocates Do?

1.    Educate clients and community organizations about the new definitions and the clarifications of how these types of assets will be of trafficking. 

2.    Be aware that DHS continues to refine BEM 400 regarding assets, particularly for the FAP asset test.  Help clients understand and respond to questions or challenges by DHS.

3.    Provide information to CCJ about families that are being harmed by the new policy.  Please call CCJ at the number at the top of this form, to find out how to communicate information to CCJ.

4.  Help clients request and present information at administrative hearings when appropriate.

 

What Should Clients Do?

1.   Contact CCJ’s Helpline at 1-800-481-4989 for help understanding the new definitions or how DHS should be applying its asset test to your case. 

2.   Seek legal advice if you are told your FAP or MA benefits are going to be terminated due to assets.   

3.   Read your notices carefully.  If some or all of your benefits are ending, you have the right to request a hearing.  If DHS receives your hearing request within the deadline given in your notice, you will continue to receive benefits at the current level (but if you lose, will owe DHS any assistance you were not entitled to).  Seek legal help if you request a hearing.

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.