The Family Independence Program (FIP) provides temporary cash assistance to families with minor children and/or pregnant women. Some people call it TANF, which is the federal name, or FIA, which is an old name for the program. There are federal and state time limits for FIP. There are also exceptions to those limits.
For general information about FIP, read An Overview of the Family Independence Program (FIP, or Cash Assistance).
The Time Limits
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is a federal program that funds most of Michigan’s FIP. TANF has a 60 month lifetime limit. This means you cannot get more than 60 months of TANF in your lifetime. Michigan has a 48 month lifetime limit for FIP. This means you cannot get more than 48 months of FIP in your lifetime from a case in Michigan. TANF received while in another state will be counted towards your lifetime limit in Michigan.
The lifetime limits were set on October 1, 1996. Each month of FIP or TANF you received on or after October 1996 counts toward your lifetime limit.
The time limits apply to individuals who are 18 or older and minor parents who are the head-of-household. Your FIP household cannot include an adult who has reached the lifetime limit.
FIP time limits for two parent households can be complex. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) sets the household limit based on the parent who has received more FIP. For example, Pat and Terry make up a two parent household. Pat has received FIP for 20 months. Terry has received FIP for 40. When they apply for FIP again, MDHHS will use Terry’s 40 months of FIP to set the household limit. This means their household can only receive 8 months of FIP. However, if Terry leaves the home after hitting the 48 month lifetime limit, the household could reapply for FIP and could get it until Pat hits the lifetime limit.
It can be complex figuring out if you reached a lifetime limit for one or both programs. If you think that your lifetime limits have been calculated incorrectly by MDHHS, 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.
If you have questions about time limits, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and a legal services office in your area.
Time Limit Exceptions
There are exceptions for both state and federal time limits. Months you have an exception will not be counted towards your lifetime limit.
Exceptions for both time limits apply if any of these are true:
You are 65 or older;
You are establishing incapacity (disability);
You are incapacitated (disabled) for more than 90 days;
You care for a spouse with disabilities;
You care for a child with disabilities; or
You are exempt from the Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope. (PATH) program because of domestic violence.
To learn more about the PATH program, read Family Independence Program (FIP, or Cash Assistance) Work Rules and PATH.
When you apply for time limit exceptions based on disability (either your disability or the disability of your child or spouse), Social Security benefits must be applied for by the disabled person or, if a child, by the parent. To learn more about these benefits, read An Overview of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Determining whether you qualify for an exception can be complex. If you have questions about exceptions, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and a legal services office in your area.