Categorical Eligibility for Basic Food
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Categorical Eligibility for Basic Food

Revised March 21, 2014

Purpose: This section explains which Basic Food assistance units do not have to meet all of the eligibility requirements for Basic Food.

WAC 388-414-0001Do I have to meet all eligibility requirements for Basic Food?

WAC 388-414-0001

WAC 388-414-0001

Effective August 18, 2014

WAC 388-414-0001 Do I have to meet all eligibility requirements for Basic Food?

  1. What is "categorically eligible" (CE)?  

    1. Being categorically eligible (CE) means that you have already met requirements for the program. If you are CE, you do not have to meet every program requirement to be eligible for Basic Food.

    2.  If your assistance unit (AU) is CE, you automatically meet the following requirements for Basic Food:

      1. Residency under WAC 388-468-0005;

      2. Countable resource limit under WAC 388-470-0005;

      3. Maximum gross monthly income under WAC 388-478-0060; and

      4. Maximum net monthly income under WAC 388-478-0060.

    3. If your AU is CE and the information is available from another program, you do not need to provide the following for Basic Food:

      1. Social Security Number information under WAC 388-476-0005; and

      2. Sponsored alien information under WAC 388-450-0155.

    4. Being CE does not mean that your AU is guaranteed to get Basic Food benefits. If your AU is CE:

      1. You must still meet the other Basic Food program requirements under WAC 388-400-0040; and

      2. If you meet the other program requirements, we must budget your AU's income to determine the amount of benefits your AU will receive.

  2. Who is categorically eligible for Basic Food?

    Your Basic Food AU is CE when your household meets the conditions in subsection 2 (a) or 2 (b) below:   

a.   Your AU’s income that we do not exclude under WAC 388-450-0015  is at or under 200% of the federal poverty guidelines we use for department programs.

                                      i.        The federal government publishes the federal poverty guidelines on the Health and Human Services website. These are currently posted at

                                    ii.        The department uses the monthly value of the income guidelines for the current year beginning the first of April every year.

                                   iii.        If your income is not over 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, we provide your AU information about department programs and resources in the community.

b.  Everyone in your AU receives one of the following cash assistance programs:

                                      i.        Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)/State Family Assistance (SFA) or Tribal TANF under WAC 388-400-0005 and 388-400-0010;

                                    ii.        Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash assistance under WAC 388-400-0060;

                                   iii.        Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act; or

                                   iv.        Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA) under WAC 388-432-0005.  DCA makes the Basic Food AU CE for the month it receives DCA and the following three months.

3.  Who is not CE even if my AU meets the above criteria?

  1. Even if your AU is CE, members of your AU are not eligible for Basic Food if they:

    1. Are not eligible because of their alien or student status;

    2. Were disqualified from Basic Food under WAC 388-444-0055 for failing work requirements;

    3. Are not eligible for failing to provide or apply for a Social Security number;

    4. Receive SSI in a cash-out state (state where SSI payments are increased to include the value of the client's food stamp allotment); or

    5. Live in an institution not eligible for Basic Food under WAC 388-408-0040.

  2. If a person in your AU is not eligible for Basic Food, we do not include them as an eligible member of your CE AU.

  3. Your AU is not CE if:

    1. Your AU is not eligible because of striker requirements under WAC 388-480-0001;

    2. Your AU is ineligible for knowingly transferring resources in order to qualify for benefits under WAC 388-488-0010;

    3. Your AU refused to cooperate in providing information that is needed to determine your eligibility;

    4. The head of household for your AU failed to meet work requirements; or

    5. Anyone in your AU is disqualified because of an intentional program violation under WAC 388-446-0015.

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.


1.     CE does not meet all eligibility requirements for Basic Food: 

An AU that is CE doesn’t automatically receive Basic Food benefits. If the AU is ineligible for a reason other than income or resources, CE status does not make them eligible for benefits. Examples of eligibility requirements not met by CE include:

a.      AUs ineligible based on Striker requirements under WAC 388-480-0001; and

b.      AUs disqualified for transferring countable resources based on Transfer of Property requirements under WAC 388-488-0010.

2.    CE based on gross countable income:

a.     AUs with countable income up to 200% of the +federal poverty guidelines are eligible to use the department’s Online CSO website. This website provides information about our programs as well as referrals to resources in the community.

b.     This web-based information and referral service partly funded with TANF and TANF Maintenance Of Effort funds. Because of this funding, we use this service to make AUs categorically eligible for Basic Food if they have countable income at or under 200%.

c.     Clients are notified and authorized to receive this service through a text block on their approval letter for Basic Food.

200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.

April 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015

Persons in AU

200% of poverty guidelines

Persons in AU

200% of poverty guidelines





















Add for each person over 10 AU members: $677


Categorical Eligibility eliminates resource requirements, the gross income test, and net income test for AUs with countable income up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

If an AU has income up to this limit, we do not need to look at income limits or resources for Basic Food unless the AU can’t be CE because:

  • A member of the AU is disqualified from Basic Food for an Intentional Program Violation (IPV); or
  • The Head of Household is disqualified for not meeting Basic Food Employment & Training requirements.

3.Reporting requirements for CE Households:

Households must report if their gross monthly income is more than 200% of the federal poverty rate based on the number of people in the household when the household was last certified / recertified.

4.  CE based on receiving other benefits from other department programs:

Households are still CE if everyone in the assistance unit receives TANF/SFA, Tribal TANF, or if all Basic Food AU members receive GA, ADATSA, SSI or a combination of the three.  Additionally, receiving Diversion Cash Assistance (DCA) makes a household CE for the month the AU receives the payment and the following three months.

5. CE and minimum monthly benefit for one and two person households:

All eligible one and two-person assistance units will receive at least the minimum monthly benefit as described under WAC 388-412-0015.  This includes one and two person AUs with income up to 200% of the poverty guidelines whose monthly benefits would calculate to zero.


As stated in WAC 388-412-0015, if the monthly benefits of a one or two-person assistance unit are less than the minimum benefit because we are prorating the benefits for the month of application, the AU will not receive the minimum benefit for this initial month.

6.                 Residency:

Households that are CE have the residency requirements deemed. This does not mean that if a household moves out of the state that it will continue to be eligible for Washington Basic Food benefits.

7.                Social Security Numbers and Sponsored Alien Information:

a.                  CE households are not generally required to provide Social Security Numbers (SSN) or sponsored alien information. However, we must verify information necessary for the benefit determination if it is not captured in another program.

b.                  If the household is CE based on gross income only, and:

  • The information is not otherwise available; we will need to obtain the SSN.
  • We have not previously verified the information; we must obtain the sponsored alien information if required under WAC 388-450-0155.

8.                  SSI recipient in cash-out state:

A cash-out state is a state where the SSI payments are specially increased to include the value of the food stamp allotment.California is an example of a cash-out state. No one who receives SSI benefits and / or State supplementary payments as a resident ofCalifornia is eligible to receive Basic Food benefits.

If a client stops receiving SSI benefits from a cash-out state, they may receive Basic Food benefits and be categorically eligible

9.                 How to treat the Resources of an ineligible member of a CE Assistance Unit:

If an AU is CE for Basic Food, but a member is ineligible for benefits, the resources of the ineligible member do not impact the AU’s eligibility for Basic Food.

10.             How to treat the income of an ineligible member of a CE Assistance Unit:

To determine if the AU is CE based on having income at or under 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, we count a portion of the ineligible member’s income to the AU as required under WAC 388-450-0140. We then compare the AU’s gross income to the 200% standard based on the number of eligible AU members to determine if the AU is categorically eligible based on income.


Basic Food AU consists of three eligible members and one member who is ineligible based on their undocumented status.  The AU is not CE based on receipt of TANF/SFA, DCA, SSI, or GA benefits.  The three eligible members of the AU have $600 monthly earnings.  The ineligible member has $400 countable monthly income. 

Determine if the AU is CE as follows:

 $300 Prorated share of countable income from ineligible member under 388-450-0140 (¾ of $400)

+$600 Gross countable income of eligible AU members

  $900 Income used to determine if AU meets 200% test.

Because the gross countable income of $900 isn’t over 200% of the federal poverty guidelines for the three eligible AU members, the AU is CE for Basic Food.

Modification Date: March 21, 2014