Benefit Errors - Cash and Food Assistance Underpayments
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Benefit Errors - Cash and Food Assistance Underpayments

Revised July 27, 2012

WAC 388-410-0040Cash and food assistance underpayments.

WAC 388-410-0040

WAC 388-410-0040

Effective September 1, 1998

WAC 388-410-0040 Cash and food assistance underpayments.

  1. All cash assistance underpayments not credited against an overpayment are repaid upon discovery to any current or former recipient. 

  2. All food assistance benefits underpaid are restored when:

    1. An underpayment was caused by department error;

    2. An administrative disqualification for intentional program violation was reversed;

    3. A rule or instruction specifies restoration of unpaid benefits; or

    4. A court action finds benefits were wrongfully withheld.

  3. A client is eligible for restoration of underpaid benefits for any of the twelve months prior to:

    1. The month the client requests restoration;

    2. The month the department discovers an underpayment;

    3. The date the household makes a fair hearing request when a request for restoration of benefits was not received; or

    4. The date court action was started when the client has taken no other action to obtain restoration of benefits.

  4. The client may request a fair hearing if they disagree with the amount of benefits the department determines were underpaid.

  5. If household composition changes prior to the department's restoration of an underpayment, the underpayment is paid to:

    1. First, the household containing a majority of the persons who were household members at the time of the underpayment; or

    2. Second, the household containing the head of the household at the time of the underpayment.

This is a reprint of the official rule as published by the Office of the Code Reviser. If there are previous versions of this rule, they can be found using the Legislative Search page.


Effect of Underpayments on Resources: The unspent amount of a cash assistance underpayment is not included in computing the value of a household's nonexempt resources in the month the underpayment is reimbursed or in the following month.

Date of Discovery for Department Errors: When the underpayment is discovered by the department, the date of discovery is the date we have adequate information to validate the household has an underpayment and determine the amount the household was underpaid.  It is not the date the department received information or verification.


While processing an eligibility review on 1/01/12, the worker discovers that the household provided verification on 6/01/10 of a decrease in their direct support payments.  The date of discovery is 1/01/12.  The department can establish an underpayment for the 12 month period prior to 1/01/12.  The household can request an administrative hearing if they think the underpayment should be for more than the allowable 12 month period.


  1. Repay all underpayments that are not applied toward reducing an overpayment.
  2. Document in the ACES narrative, any request received, oral or written, from an assistance unit indicating a belief they were entitled to more benefits than were received.

  3. To restore unpaid food assistance benefits, determine the amount the household was eligible to receive during each month in which there was an error. Disregard any months in which the household was not certified except those months where benefits were lost due to an incorrect denial or termination.

  4. Restore food assistance benefits back to the date of application when a delay past the first 30 days is the fault of the department.

  5. Upon discovering an underpayment, check the history file to determine if an outstanding balance on an overpayment remains. If so, complete a notice to Office of Financial Recovery indicating the adjustment to the overpayment balance from a restoration of unpaid benefits.

  6. If a cash or food assistance underpayment is in excess of any overpayment or remaining overpayment balance, create a beg for the excess amount to the appropriate assistance unit.

Modification Date: July 27, 2012