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Michigan MDHHS Appeals Welfare Law Ruling

Lansing, Mich. March 28, 2012. -  The 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Genesee County, Judge Geoffrey Neithercut issued a ruling on March 27, 2012 in the class action suit Smith, et al v. Corrigan (MDHHS).

In the opinion, the court ruled that the Michigan Department of Human Services exceeded its authority when it enacted a rule limiting temporary cash assistance benefits to a period of no more than 60 months.

The MDHHS rule is designed to be consistent with federal law limiting use of block grant funds for temporary cash assistance benefits to no more than 60 months.

On careful review of the ruling, MDHHS believes the ruling is not consistent with state law, which gives MDHHS authority to enact rules to achieve efficient, fair, cost-effective administration of the program. If Judge Neithercut's ruling remains intact, then the state will be required to pay temporary cash assistance benefits for an indefinite period of time, out of the state's general fund, notwithstanding the federal 60-month limit.

The Department believes that the opinion issued by the judge is legally incorrect and looks forward to a full airing of this issue at the next level. The Court of Appeals has already ruled, at an earlier stage in this case, that the plaintiff class members are not likely succeed on the merits of their claim.

Accordingly, MDHHS now seeks a reversal of this opinion on an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. While that process is underway, MDHHS also seeks a stay of the judge's order. A motion for a stay will be filed in the Genesee County Circuit Court and, if necessary, will be filed in the Court of Appeals as well.