Family Independence Program (FIP, or Cash Assistance)
The Family Independence Program (FIP) provides cash assistance to families with minor children. FIP families must have at least one primary caretaker living with a minor child. A primary caretaker is the adult responsible for the physical care and supervision of the minor child.
There are some exceptions to the minor child requirement. If you are a pregnant woman or parent of a child in foster care that is expected to return home within one year, you may also be eligible for cash assistance.
FIP has income and asset limits. The income limits are based on the size of your household. Some of your expenses are taken into account. Assets are cash, personal property, or real property. Real property is land and the things on it. Personal property includes investments, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, trusts and other property. Some types of assets are not counted toward the FIP asset limit, including your car and personal belongings.
To be eligible for FIP, you must have at least one citizen or qualified legal immigrant in your family. Even if other family members do not have legal immigration status, this will not stop your application as long as one member does. You must live in Michigan to qualify for FIP. Your family cannot receive cash assistance from any other state.
If you are an adult applying for FIP, you must follow a work participation program called PATH. PATH stands for Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope. PATH begins with a 21-day assessment period in which caseworkers help you with employment barriers. Your FIP case will not open until you successfully complete the 21-day assessment.
Once you begin receiving FIP you must also follow work rules. You must complete a Jobs and Self-Sufficiency Survey and develop a Family Self-Sufficiency Plan (FSSP). The FSSP will list the work activities that you must do up to 40 hours per week to receive FIP. If you break work rules without good cause the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) may:
Deny your application
Stop cash assistance for your whole family for three months for the first time; six months for the second time; and for your lifetime for the third time
Count all penalty months toward your 48-month state lifetime limit
To apply for FIP, submit an application to DHHS. The application process takes around 45 days to complete. The fastest way to apply is online through the DHHS website, MI Bridges. You can also apply in person at your local DHHS office. Your local DHHS office will give you a general application form, but it may be easier to print an application form and fill it out completely before going to DHHS.
When you apply, you will be asked to prove important parts of your application. This means you may have to show documents like birth certificates, social security cards, state ID cards, driver licenses, or passports. You may also need to take documents that show your income and expenses, like bank statements and proof of rent (such as a lease). These expense documents must be less than 30 days old.
A DHHS specialist will contact you and set up a conference to go over your family’s FIP application. You should bring your important documents to this conference. The conference is also an opportunity to learn about your rights.
FIP cash assistance is subject to both state and federal time limits. Michigan law allows eligible adult recipients to receive FIP for no more than 48 months in their lifetime (some exceptions to apply). Federal law allows eligible adult recipients to receive FIP for no more than 60 months in their lifetime (no exceptions apply).