What is SER?
The State Emergency Relief Program (SER) provides help to people who need money quickly for an emergency. Some examples are to prevent an eviction, stop a utility shut off, or pay for a burial. There are other types of emergencies that SER may cover.
SER has an income test and an asset test. The income test may require you to pay a co-payment. A co-payment is an amount you must pay before you are eligible to receive SER money. The income test may also have a cap on how much money you are eligible to receive.
The asset test limits the value of non-cash assets you can own and qualify for SER. The current non-cash asset limit is $15,000. Some assets, such as your home, one car, personal and household goods, are excluded from the asset limit.
Applying for SER
To apply for SER, submit an application to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The application process takes around 10 days to complete. One way to apply is online through the MDHHS website, MI Bridges. However, if you need immediate help you can also apply in person at your local MDHHS office. Your local MDHHS office will give you an application form, but it may be easier to print an application form and fill it out completely before going to MDHHS. Explain your emergency to your MDHHS specialist. The MDHHS specialist is the only person who can determine whether you are eligible for SER.
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 MDHHS specialist will contact you and set up a conference to go over your SER application. You should bring your important documents to this conference. The conference is also an opportunity to learn about your rights. Be sure to ask the MDHHS specialist any questions you have about the application process or your public benefits.
Do You Need Legal Advice about your SER?
If you have a question about whether or not you are eligible for SER, or if you feel you have been wrongly denied or aren't getting the right amount, you may be able to get help from the Counsel and Advocacy Law Line. This is a free legal aid hotline. To find out if they can help you, apply online or call 1-888-783-8190 Monday - Thursday, 9am - 5pm, or Friday, 9am - 1pm.