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Common Questions about Food Stamps (FAP)

Contents

    This is a list of common questions about Food Stamps (FAP).

    Questions about Food Stamps (FAP)

    What is the Food Assistance Program (FAP)?

    FAP is a benefit program that helps low-income families buy food. It is part of the federal program that used to be called Food Stamps.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) puts monthly FAP benefits on a Bridge Card. The family uses the Bridge Card to pay for groceries.

    Are there income and asset limits for the Food Assistance Program (FAP)?

    Yes, there are income and asset limits for FAP. FAP eligibility is based on household size, monthly household income, and assets. Households includes all the people who purchase and prepare meals together. Children under age 22 who live at home are part of their parents’ household.

    Family income can be up to 200% of the poverty level, depending on expenses. Certain expenses are taken into account, such as child support payments or medical expenses for disabled and elderly family members.

    A family must also have less than $5,000 dollars in countable assets to be eligible for FAP. Some assets don’t count for your asset test, such as your home and your vehicles (up to $15,000 fair market value).

    If your entire household is already eligible for the Family Independence Program (FIP), State Disability Assistance (SDA), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you are exempt from the asset test.

    Where can I use my Bridge Card?

    You can use your Bridge Card at most grocery stores and markets. There are some restrictions on what you can buy with your Bridge Card.

    How long will it take to start getting benefits?

    How long the application process takes depends on which public benefits you apply for. Here are some common public benefits programs and the application timelines:

    • Food Assistance Program (FAP) –30 days (If you are homeless or have little to no money, you might be able to get emergency food assistance. Emergency applications are processed within 7 days).

    • Family Independence Program (FIP) –45 days

    • Child Development and Care Program - 60 days

    • Medical Assistance (MA) – 45 days, but a disability-related application can take up to 90 days.

    • State Disability Assistance (SDA) –60 days

    • State Emergency Relief (SER) –10 days

    The fastest way to apply is online at MI Bridges. You can also apply in person at your local MDHHS office.

    What is a Bridge Card?

    A Bridge Card is like a debit card for food. A Bridge Card can be used at most grocery stores and markets. There are some restrictions on what you may buy with your Bridge Card.

    What expenses does MDHHS consider when deciding if I am eligible for FAP?

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) considers shelter costs (including utilities), childcare costs, and child support payments when determining eligibility for the Food Assistance Program (FAP). MDHHS will also consider medical expenses for senior and disabled people. Medical expenses for people who are not senior or disabled will not be considered. MDHHS does not consider car payments or car insurance.

    Can I get emergency FAP benefits?

    Maybe. Certain households are eligible for expedited Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits, where the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) processes your application in seven days. You are probably eligible for expedited FAP benefits if:

    • Your gross monthly income is $150.00 or less and you have less than $100.00 in cash or savings, OR

    • Your gross monthly income plus all of your cash and savings are less than your monthly housing and utility bills, OR

    • You are a migrant or seasonal worker who is between jobs or

    • You are homeless

    If your application alone shows that you are eligible for expedited FAP benefits, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) must review and make a decision on your application within seven days. This is true even if you don’t have all the papers and proof of income that MDHHS asks for. You will have to give MDHHS all of this information in order to continue getting FAP.

    The benefits should be issued on the seventh day, though delays are common. If you don’t receive your benefits shortly after the seventh day, try calling your caseworker. If you can’t get a hold of your caseworker, your local legal services office may be able to help you. Use Find a Lawyer to find legal services near you.

    What if my caseworker won’t call me back?

    Sometimes it is hard to reach your caseworker. Here are some quick tips if you are having trouble:

    • Leave a message telling your caseworker when and where you can be reached.

    • Send an email or letter to your caseworker.

    • See if your local legal services or legal aid office can to help you. Use Find a Lawyer to find legal services near you.

    • Schedule a walk-in appointment.

    • If there is a deadline involved, request a hearing in writing.

    To learn more, read What if My Case Worker Won’t Call Me Back?.

    Can someone else apply for FAP for me?

    Yes. You can designate an authorized representative. If the authorized representative is part of your FAP household, he or she can be any age. If the authorized representative is not part of your FAP household, he or she must be 18 years old or older. The authorized representative can fill out the application for the household, attend the interview, and give the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) the information it needs. It is very important that an authorized representative be someone honest and reliable, who has full knowledge of your household’s income and expense information.

    You can designate a person as your authorized representative in your application for FAP. If you are already receiving FAP, you can use Form 247. After that person is designated, you can tell MDHHS at any time that you don’t want that person to be your authorized representative anymore.

    Can someone else do my grocery shopping for me?

    Yes. If you have an authorized representative, you can request an additional Bridge Card for that person. Never give your own Bridge Card or PIN to another person to use.

    A separate Bridge Card will not be made for your authorized representative unless you ask for one. The authorized representative’s Bridge Card will have both your name and his or her name printed on the card. The card will also have the letters ARFS stamped on it. This shows it is the authorized representative’s card. The card, along with a separate PIN, will be mailed to you, not the authorized representative.

    Can I get FAP if I’m an immigrant?

    Maybe. Most immigrant children who are lawfully present are eligible for FAP. Most immigrant adults who are lawfully present and have lived in the U.S. lawfully for at least five years are also eligible. To learn more, read Food Assistance for Immigrants.

    Can I get FAP if I’m homeless?

    Maybe. You can apply for FAP if you are living in a shelter or don’t have an ID. To learn more, read An Overview of the Food Assistance Program (FAP, or Food Stamps).