COVID-19 and Public Benefits
- How do I contact the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How will DHHS hearings happen during the stay-at-home order?
- Can my Medicaid benefits be stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- I have health coverage through Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP), but I recently lost my job. Are there work requirements to keep my HMP coverage?
Food Assistance (FAP or SNAP)
- I wasn’t getting food assistance (FAP/SNAP) before, but now I’ve lost my job. Should I apply for food assistance?
- I already receive food assistance, but my income has recently decreased. Can I get additional benefits?
- I was let go from my job and I haven’t been able to look for a new job due to the stay-at-home order. Can I still get food stamps (FAP/SNAP)?
- I am a college student, but I am home now because my school was closed due to the pandemic. Am I eligible for food assistance (FAP/SNAP)?
Cash Assistance (FIP)
- I have stopped looking for a job because of the stay-at-home order. Will I lose my cash assistance (FIP) because I didn’t follow the work rules?
State Emergency Relief (SER)
- I got SER assistance earlier this year to help pay a utility bill. Now I have lost my job and can’t pay the bills. Can I apply for SER again?
- I applied for SER before COVID-19 and was denied because I was not eligible. Can I apply again now?
How do I contact the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic? – Back to Top
DHHS administers public assistance programs. DHHS offices are closed to the public due to the public health emergency, but you can still get benefits. You can apply for benefits through the online MI Bridges portal. You can also submit paperwork, review your benefits, or report changes through that portal. If DHHS needs to interview you, they will do that over the phone rather than in person. And for some benefits that require your signature, DHHS will accept a verbal signature after speaking with you on the phone.
If you can’t use the MI Bridges portal, contact your caseworker (if you have one) or your local office. There may be wait times to get through on the phone due to a high volume of calls.
How will DHHS hearings happen during the stay-at-home order? – Back to Top
Governor Whitmer issued an executive order that allows administrative hearings to be done by phone or video conference. If you prefer an in-person hearing, look on your hearing notice for a number that you can call to make that request. Requesting an in-person hearing may slow down the hearing process.
Can my Medicaid benefits be stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic? – Back to Top
Medicaid benefits cannot be terminated while Michigan is in a state of emergency. Medicaid benefits can be stopped on the first day of the month after the Michigan state of emergency ends. The state of emergency currently goes through May 28, 2020. Medicaid coverage may be closed if a recipient moves out of Michigan, asks for their coverage to be closed, or dies.
This rule that benefits cannot be stopped during the state of emergency applies to Medicaid, MIChild, Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP), and to people who have active coverage after they meet a deductible (spend-down). A deductible is an amount of your health care costs you are responsible for before your benefits start. For example, if you have a $100 deductible, you are responsible for the first $100 of your health care costs before your benefits start. Anyone who has a deductible and meets it during the Michigan state of emergency will remain covered until the end of the state of emergency.
I have health coverage through Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP), but I recently lost my job. Are there work requirements to keep my HMP coverage? – Back to Top
Not right now. The Michigan legislature passed a law that would have imposed work requirements for people on HMP. In early March, however, a judge ruling stopped that law from being enforced. The judge’s ruling will be reviewed by an appeals court, but for now, work requirements for people on the HMP will not be enforced.
Food Assistance (FAP or SNAP)
I wasn’t getting food assistance (FAP/SNAP) before, but now I’ve lost my job. Should I apply for food assistance? – Back to Top
Yes. If you have lost income and think you may now be eligible for food assistance, you should apply through the MI Bridges website. Eligibility for food assistance is based on the financial situation of everyone in your household. Everyone who lives together and buys/prepares food together is considered a member of the same household. Once you apply, DHHS will review your household’s expenses, assets, and income to determine if you are eligible for benefits.
I already receive food assistance, but my income has recently decreased. Can I get additional benefits? – Back to Top
Maybe. In March, Michigan applied for a waiver that allowed most households receiving food assistance (FAP) to receive an “emergency allotment” (EA) for March and April 2020. The EA helps households that are not already receiving the maximum food assistance for their family size by automatically increasing their benefits to the maximum amount. Households already receiving the maximum benefits will not see an increase in their food assistance. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved an extension of this emergency allotment. People receiving food assistance should continue to receive the maximum benefits for their family size at least through the end of November. When the emergency allotment ends, if your income is still less than when you first applied for food assistance, you should contact your caseworker.
Here are the maximum Food Stamp amounts:
- $194 for a household of one
- $355 for a household of two
- $509 for a household of three
- $646 for a household of four
- $768 for a household of five
- $921 for a household of six
- $1,018 for a household of seven
- $1,164 for a household of eight
I was let go from my job and I haven’t been able to look for a new job due to the stay-at-home order. Can I still get food stamps (FAP/SNAP)? – Back to Top
Yes. A new law has stopped all work and training requirements for food assistance benefits until the public health crisis is over. You should notify DHHS if you have lost your job or had your hours cut. However, DHHS will not enforce the work requirement for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) during the coronavirus emergency.
I am a college student, but I am home now because my school was closed due to the pandemic. Am I eligible for food assistance (FAP/SNAP)? – Back to Top
Maybe. Although college students do not typically qualify for food assistance, DHHS has expanded eligibility for certain college students. Students who are enrolled at least half-time in an occupational program that is part of the Perkins Postsecondary CTE program may now be eligible for food assistance. You must still meet the income and other food assistance requirements, but you will no longer need to show that you work 20 hours per week or have a good reason for not working.
Cash Assistance (FIP)
I have stopped looking for a job because of the stay-at-home order. Will I lose my cash assistance (FIP) because I didn’t follow the work rules? – Back to Top
No. DHHS has temporarily stopped enforcing the requirement that people receiving cash assistance follow the rules of the work participation program (PATH).
State Emergency Relief (SER)
I got SER assistance to help with a utility bill earlier this year. Now I have lost my job and can’t pay the bills. Can I apply for SER again? – Back to Top
Maybe. SER provides help to people who need emergency assistance, including money to stop an eviction or a utility shut-off. SER energy assistance used to be limited to one payment per tax year. Now that rule has been changed, so that SER may be available for more than one utility payment in a year. However the amount of money you can receive is still limited to $1,200 for propane and fuel oil and $850 for all other energy types.
I applied for SER before COVID-19 and was denied because I was not eligible. Can I apply again now? – Back to Top
Yes. Some eligibility requirements have been changed to allow more people to receive SER. For example, you can now apply if you have non-cash assets up to $15,000 as well as cash assets up to $15,000. Also, until further notice MDHHS will not make a shortfall determination for energy or utility services. This means your required payment amount for electricity, heat, water and sewer services is $0.