Human services advocates say a new evaluation of assets to be able to qualify for food assistance will prevent many people from getting the help they need.
The Michigan League for Human Services says changes from the state to the federally funded program will overburden caseworkers with new forms to fill out and questions to ask people who are seeking food assistance.
"We're very concerned that this new change in policy - because so many people will have their benefits checked, and workers are going to have to go through very carefully and check off new boxes and do things all over again - that we just know because of human error that mistakes are going to be made," says Gilda Jacobs, with the League.
Jacobs says mistakes could cost taxpayers millions of dollars if the federal government sanctions the state for errors. She says caseworkers are already overburdened, and the additional paperwork could confuse things.
"And now we're going to ask these same caseworkers who are so overburdened, to review food assistance for nearly two million people and re-determine whether or not they qualify," she says. "Well, how is this going to work?"
Human services advocates are asking the state to reverse a new policy that will deny food assistance benefits to people with assets of more than $5,000 dollars. That includes savings, real estate and other property. Personal vehicles in the family with market values totaling more than $15,000 dollars are also counted.
Human services groups say that will end assistance to families that really need the help, and delay people becoming self-sufficient. They also say it won't save Michigan taxpayers money because the program is federally funded.
Brian Rooney, a deputy director at the state Department of Human Services, says there are no plans to reverse the new policy.
"The bottom line is federal money isn't free money, he says. "It's still taxpayer dollars, and we have to be good stewards of that, and when the program is designed to be transitional, to help people supplement their nutrition, it's not supposed to be a lifetime benefit."
Most states do not have assets tests for people seeking food assistance. The assets test goes into effect this weekend.