LANSING, June 27, 2012 –The State of Michigan Court of Appeals this morning ruled in the lawsuit involving the five-year federal limit on cash assistance under the Family Independence Program (FIP). On the key substantive issue of whether the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) Director has the authority to enforce these federal limits, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the department, writing that existing laws “provide statutory authority for the DHS Director’s reliance on fiscal soundness to add an eligibility criterion that would disqualify individuals from FIP assistance based on the exhaustion of federal TANF funds.”
“The court’s ruling clearly validates our assertion that the DHS Director has the authority to impose federal limitations to the cash assistance program in Michigan,” said DHS Director Maura D. Corrigan. “The state has had to fund cash assistance beyond the federal limit of five years, costing Michigan more than $70 million annually.”
The court also ruled that class certification for this lawsuit was valid and remanded procedural issues back to the lower court. The Michigan Attorney General’s office is currently reviewing the ruling on administrative procedures.
Both the plaintiffs in the case and DHS have 21 days in which to issue a motion for rehearing to the Court of Appeals. Both sides also have 42 days in which to file an application for leave of appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
“Our attorneys are currently reviewing the opinion,” said Corrigan. “A decision on next steps will not be made until a comprehensive review is complete.”