The State Disability Assistance Program (SDA) provides cash assistance. You could be eligible if you are an adult with a disability. You may also be eligible if you are 65 or older or if you take care of a person with a disability.
Who is Eligible?
You can be eligible for SDA based on having a disability or your age. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will also look at your income and assets when deciding if you are eligible.
Being Eligible Based on Disability
To be eligible for SDA based on a disability you must meet one of these requirements:
Receive disability-related benefits, such as Medicaid, due to blindness or disability
Live in a Qualified Special Living Arrangement (SLA), such as a long term care facility or substance abuse treatment center
Be diagnosed with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Be certified by the Disability Determination Service (DDS) as unable to work for at least 90 days because of a disability
The DDS is an office of MDHHS. It reviews medical evidence and other documentation in SDA applications. If you are applying for SDA based on one of the first three categories above, DDS will review your documents to make sure that you fit into the category.
If you need DDS to certify that you can’t work for at least 90 days, DDS will review your medical evidence. You will need to complete a Medical-Social Questionnaire (DHS-49-F). You will also need to sign Authorization to Release Protected Health Information (DHS 1555) and Reimbursement Authorization (DHS 3975). Your caseworker will give you all of these forms after you turn in your SDA application. DDS will review your answers to the medical questionnaire and your medical records when deciding if you are eligible for SDA.
You must also apply for Social Security disability if you are applying for SDA based on any of the disability categories above. You will need to send proof of your application or appeal.
If you have questions about whether you qualify based on your disability, you may want to speak with someone at your local MDHHS office. Your local legal services office may also be able to help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to see if you qualify for free legal advice from your local legal services office. Even if they are not able to represent you, they could still offer you advice and other help.
Being Eligible Based on Age
You may be eligible for SDA if you are 65 or older. If you would like to apply for SDA based on age, you might also consider applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on age. SSI is a benefit paid by the Social Security Administration. To learn more about SSI, read An Overview of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If you are the caretaker of a disabled person who lives with you, you may be eligible for SDA. The work you do must be medically required for at least 90 days. The work could include:
Help with medication
The person you are caring for does not have to be related to you, but you must live together. You and the person you are caring for can receive SDA at the same time.
Income and Asset Limits
MDHHS will look at your income and assets when deciding if you are eligible. If you are eligible, MDHHS will also use your income and assets to decide your benefit amount. MDHHS will count most of your earned and unearned income. Examples of income that MDHHS will count are wages, child support, and Social Security benefits.
Assets are things you own. Both real and personal property are counted. Real property includes land and anything permanently attached to it. Personal property includes cash, investments, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. The asset limit for cash, retirement plans, and investments is $15,000. The asset limit for real property is $200,000.
Some types of income and assets are not included in the limit. To learn more about these limits, read Income and Asset Limits for State Disability Assistance.
Immigration and Residence Requirements
In order to be eligible for SDA, you must be a U.S. citizen or qualified legal immigrant. You must live in Michigan to get SDA. You and your family cannot receive cash assistance from any other state.
Generally, all non-citizen children with permanent resident status (green cards) or VAWA are eligible for SDA. Non-citizen adults who have permanent resident status or VAWA for five years or more are also eligible. Asylees and refugees are also eligible for SDA. Some other categories of immigrants are also eligible, including certified victims of human trafficking and Cuban/Haitian entrants. Immigrants who do not fall in one of the eligibility categories cannot get SDA. People who refuse to share their immigration status are also not eligible.
If you have questions about SDA for immigrants, you may want to speak with someone at your local MDHHS Office. Your local legal services office may also be able to help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to see if you qualify for free legal advice from your local legal services office. Even if they are not able to represent you, they could still offer you advice and other help.
If you speak limited English, MDHHS must provide you with an interpreter. Be sure to tell MDHHS that you need an interpreter or need help understanding documents in English. You have a right to bring your own interpreter if you prefer. The application is available in different languages. You can apply online and have someone help you.
How Do I Apply?
To apply for SDA, submit an application to MDHHS. The application process takes around 60 days to complete. The fastest way to apply is online through the MI Bridges Portal. If you apply online you will have proof of your application. You can also apply in person at your local MDHHS office. Your local MDHHS office has to give you a paper application form if you ask for it. You can also print an application form and fill it out before going to MDHHS.
You can have a friend or family member help you complete the application if you want. If you have trouble reading or writing, MDHHS must help you, but you need to let them know that you need help. Some MDHHS offices have computer stations where you can apply online through the MI Bridges Portal with help from an employee.
When you apply, you will be asked to prove important parts of your application. This means you may have to show documents such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, state ID cards, driver licenses, or passports. You may also need documents that show your income and expenses. This could include pay stubs, bank statements and proof of rent (such as a lease or rent receipt). These documents must be less than 30 days old.
When you submit an SDA application, you are swearing that all of the information you gave is true and complete to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t understand a question, it is better to ask for help than to guess.
MDHHS will contact you and set up a conference to go over your SDA application. They will ask about any parts of the application that you did not complete, and you can ask questions to help you understand. You should bring your important documents to this conference. The conference is also an opportunity to learn about your rights. You can bring someone with you to this conference if you need help.
If you speak limited English, MDHHS must provide you with an interpreter. Be sure to tell MDHHS that you need an interpreter or need help understanding documents in English. You also have a right to bring your own interpreter if you prefer. The application is also available in different languages. You can also apply online and have someone help you.
Once you are approved, you will get a Bridge Card. A Bridge Card is like a debit card that can be used at many stores and markets. You can use your Bridge Card to withdraw cash at ATMs. There are some restrictions on what you may buy with your Bridge Card. If you need to order a new Bridge Card, call 888-678-8914.
Report any changes in your household size, income, or assets to MDHHS. You must report the changes within 10 days of the change. If you do not, your benefits could be reduced or suspended. The easiest and most reliable way to report changes is online using MI Bridges. You can also call MI Bridges at 888-642-7434 or use DHS Form-2240 to report changes.
It is best to report changes in writing and keep copies of the e-mail, fax, or letter as proof you reported the changes on time. If you report a change and there is negative action you do not agree with, such as if your SDA monthly amount decreases, you have the right to request a hearing. You can use the Do-It-Yourself MDHHS Hearing Request tool to complete your request. Make a copy of the form to keep for your records.
Restrictions on Spending
There are restrictions on how you can spend SDA benefits. MDHHS policy says that you are not allowed to use your Bridge Card to pay for:
- Lottery tickets or other gambling activities
- Alcohol or tobacco
- Illegal activities
MDHHS also says that you can’t use your Bridge Card at any of these types of businesses:
- Spas or massage parlors
- Tattoo shops
- Bail bond agencies
- Adult entertainment
- Cruise ships
Problems Getting SDA
MDHHS may deny your application, decrease your benefit amount, or close your case. If you have problems getting your SDA benefits, use the Guide to Legal Help to see if you qualify for free legal help from your local legal services office.
If MDHHS denies your application for benefits and you disagree with the decision, you have the right to ask for a hearing. You can use the Do-It-Yourself MDHHS Hearing Request tool to fill out the form you need to ask for a hearing. Make a copy of the form to keep for your records.
All legal cases have time limits, and it is important to appeal on time. The limit for MDHHS appeals is 90 days from the date on the notice. In some cases, it may be advisable to both reapply and request a hearing. You may want to consider talking to an attorney about your appeal. Use the Guide to Legal Help to see if you qualify for free legal help from your local legal services office. Even if they are not able to represent you, they could still offer you advice and other help
Case Closures, Terminations, or Decreases
If you believe MDHHS wrongfully closed your case, terminated, or decreased your benefits, you have the right to request a hearing. If you request the hearing within 10 days of the date on the negative notice, you can ask to continue getting your benefits until the hearing decision is made. You may need to repay those benefits if MDHHS decides that you were not entitled to them. You might be eligible for retroactive benefits if you request a hearing within 90 days of the negative action and you win. Retroactive benefits means you could get a payment on your Bridge Card to make up for your benefits that MDHHS did not pay you, but should have.
If you believe MDHHS made a wrong decision about your case, request a hearing. You can use the Do-It-Yourself MDHHS Hearing Request tool to complete your request. Make a copy of the form to keep for your records.
You can mail or drop off your request in person. If you mail your request, you may want to send it certified mail. Be sure to direct it to the Hearing Coordinator, not your caseworker. If you drop off your request, sign the log book in the office lobby (if available). If you have a phone, take a picture of your signature in the log book for your records. You could also ask the person who takes the request to stamp your copy as proof of when you dropped it off.
If you have questions about retroactive benefits, your local legal services office may be able to help you. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a legal services office near you.