LANSING (AP) – An undetermined number of Michigan’s nearly 2 million food assistance recipients will lose the help under new eligibility requirements the state will begin using in October.

Michigan has determined food assistance eligibility based only on income for roughly a decade. A new policy will include a review of certain financial assets starting Oct 1. The requirements will affect new applicants right away and existing recipients when their cases come up for review, which typically happens once every six months.

Those with assets of more than $5,000 in bank accounts or some types of property would no longer be eligible for food assistance. Other assets that would count against the cap include vehicles with market values of more than $15,000 and second homes, depending on how much is owed on the properties.

Some assets, such as primary residences and 401k accounts, would not be considered for determining food assistance eligibility.

The Michigan League for Human Services says the policies will make it harder for those who are out of work or underemployed to qualify for the assistance. The organization says need is increasing as the state’s unemployment rate rose to 11.2 percent in August, the third-highest rate in the nation and up from 10.2 percent in April.

“This is a hard time in Michigan for many families who are transitioning from middle-class jobs to lower-paid jobs and part-time work,” Karen Holcomb-Merrill, the organization’s policy director, said in a statement. “We should be enacting policies that encourage savings. This may have the opposite effect.”

Most states have moved in recent years to get rid of asset tests for food assistance recipients, according to the Michigan League for Human Services report.

More than 1.9 million Michigan residents – nearly 20 percent of the state’s population – are covered by the food assistance program. The number of recipients has increased by more than 40 percent since late 2008.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration has moved to limit eligibility since taking over state government agencies in January. The state removed about 30,000 college students from its food assistance program earlier this year when it began enforcing federal guidelines.

“We have to make sure that we’re serving the correct population, those that are truly in need,” said Brian Rooney, a deputy director with the Michigan Department of Human Services. “We believe that the asset test will still cover those that are truly in need. ”

Michigan already has asset tests for receiving welfare cash benefits or Medicaid.

State officials say it’s hard to tell how many residents could lose food stamp assistance under the plan because the asset levels of many recipients are currently unknown.

Food assistance benefits came under some scrutiny earlier this year when it was revealed a Michigan man had continued to get food aid from the state despite winning a $2 million lottery jackpot.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Comments (4)
  1. monique backstrom says:

    I think the governor is out of his mind he’s not concerned with the major problems like CRIME because if he were then he wld knw tht this is a big mistake everybody not wealthy so when u cut benefits the people are goin to turn to crime as a way of survival the government is takin away from families without replacing any jobs money or benefits how do they expect michigan to survive a blow this hard when the people start robbing an killing just to survive I HOPE THE GOVERNOR is prepared to take the blame because the cities blood wiil be on his hands!!!!!!!!

  2. Jill Wrenbeck says:

    Monique, that is the governor’s goal. He is deliberately dropping Michigan’s middle class into the poverty level, those in poverty to homeless and the homeless into the criminal justice system. GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut, is a private prison system that has been in Michigan before, under Snyder’s mentor and friend, John Engler. Both will make a lot of money from each prisoner in GEO Group’s system, paid by the taxpayer. GEO Group is already stirring up trouble with other GOP governors in Ohio, Arizona, and Florida. Snyder’s not crazy, he’s evil.

  3. Jack Cool says:

    40% is in foodstamps, who’s paying the foodstamps bill? WOW!!!

    5,000 in bank account? can afford a 15,000 car and have 2nd home.. still receiving foodstamps? bloodsuckers!!! i don’t have 5000 in bank account and still renting but I BUY my FODD…

  4. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi says:

    Well Well Well. We will soon be like Europe (And thrird world countries). Rich people will own all the opportunities, then they will get elected and change the rules and the laws using fear (of racists and celf centerened-short sighted – can’t see beyond April 15 of next years moron).

    Can the morons in the house, senate and the governor office show me a car that cost less then 15K? Can they show me the bus or the subway trains thaty run on time and get me to my job in 30 minutes or less reliably everyday of the year?

    Between those dumb “F” in Michigan house, senate and the U.S. house, senate, I think we are heading to a Bastille type of explosion. If there is a class war it is by the thieving rich starving and squeezing the rest to submission.

    So the statements by Monique and Jill are really not far fetched for as far as this angry Detroiter is concerned.

    As for you Jack, $5,000 in the bank with a family, no job or a burger job with no health insurance is NOTHING.

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