Did the Department of Human Services (DHS) Deny you Benefits Because "You Failed to Verify Information". Click here for more information.
Ongoing 60-Month Cash Assistance Time Limit Litigation
Needy Families Wait for Michigan Supreme Court Decision
More than 50,000 Low-Income Children and their Families Are being Represented by Center for Civil Justice.
In October 2011, CCJ filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of low-income families cut off from Cash Assistance due to a 60-month time-limit policy adopted by the Department of Human Services (DHS). In the Spring of 2012, the circuit court enjoined DHS from using the 60-month time limit to cut families off, after it determined that DHS's policy was invalid and exceeded the DHS director's authority under Michigan law.
On April 27, 2012, the Department of Human Services (DHS) mailed notices to more than 13,000 low-income families with children who were cut off from the Family Independence Program (FIP) Cash Assistance due to DHS's 60-month time-limit policy. The notices explained the lawsuit that challenged the 60-month limit and told families they ccould re-apply to receive benefits without the 60-month limit. To get benefits retroactive to March 16, 2012, families have to use the application mailed to them, which has a special sticker on the front. Applications with the sticker will also get faster processing than other applications. Parents need to be aware that the 48-month lifetime limit remains in effect and months they receive FIP will count toward that 48-month limit unless the month is:
In 2007, Michigan passed a law that set lifetime time limits on cash assistance for families with children. A number of these families were initially told that they wouldn’t be subject to the time limits. In 2011, a new state law changed the program rules. Families who were told the work requirements or time limits didn’t apply to them were suddenly scheduled to lose all their cash assistance. Over 11,000 families with children are set to lose all cash assistance permanently, including 1,200 families in Genesee County alone.
At the same time, over 200,000 households are being affected by new state food assistance rules. Many households may lose this federally funded assistance simply because they do not understand what to do or cannot obtain required documentation fast enough. The Center for Civil Justice is reviewing the policy changes, answering questions and offering strategies for advocates to make sure that those who should still be eligible for help under the law receive that help.
In October 2011, The Center for Civil Justice obtained a federal decision that said before a family is cut from benefits, they must be given a notice that provides due process of law, including a specific explanation of why they are no longer eligible and a citation to legal authority for that action. This prevented 43,000 people from losing cash benefits before they had correct information to appeal their terminations.
The Center for Civil Justice is mobilizing it's Food and Nutrition and Healthcare Helpline to answer many questions, but The Center for Civil Justice needs support to hire an attorney and outreach worker to protect the rights of families who are losing their assistance. The Family Economic Security Project has received initial leadership support from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint’s Poverty Fund and an Administration of Justice grant from the Michigan State Bar Foundation as well as funding from the Ruth Mott Foundation for the Family Economic Security Project.
Thousands of needy families in Michigan are still waiting anxiously to hear if they will lose their benefits. The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Department of Human Services 60-month time limit policy, but no decisions were made. Click here to learn more.