Flint judge sets deadline for state welfare review

Jul 16, 2012

A judge in Flint has given the Michigan Department of Human Services until Aug. 10 to process 5,000 or more remaining applications for cash assistance from people whose benefits were ended because of a five-year federal limit.

Genesee County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Neithercut imposed the deadline today during a hearing on a complaint from the Center for Civil Justice.  The complaint accused the Michigan DHS of intentionally processing the assistance applications slowly while it waited for decisions from the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.

On June 27, the state Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan can end benefits under a five-year federal limit, even if recipients still might qualify for cash under state law.

Michigan has a four-year limit, but the state stops the clock when someone with a disability can't work or when people care for a disabled spouse or child.

The state says following the stricter federal cap could save $70 million a year.

In a press release sent out today, DHS Director Maura Corrigan said the judge's ruled window for processing applications is reasonable. She said,

We are and have been committed to complying with this court’s orders. The completion date of August 10th set forth by the court today is well within our internal timeline already in place.

MLive.com reports that the groups will return to court Aug. 20 if DHS fails to process all of the cases by the deadline.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio News