Court says state agency can impose welfare time limits

Jun 27, 2012

The Michigan Court of Appeals says the state Department of Human Services can cut off cash assistance welfare benefits to people who hit the federal time limit – even if they have time remaining on their state benefits.

The ruling was a mixed bag, but mostly bad news for the people fighting a state policy regarding time limits for cash assistance. The rules for cash assistance are complicated. There’s federal as well as state money that goes into the payments.

The Court of Appeals said the Michigan Department of Human Services can decide whether it wants to operate under the state’s time limits on cash assistance or the federal limits. That means the agency may order an end to the payments after a family has reached the federal 60-month cap on benefits, even if that family would still qualify under the state’s separate time limits. But the court also said the department never went through the state’s process for making a new rule, which it has to do to end the state’s portion of the benefit.

Either side could appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.