Benefit Issuances and Use of Benefits


This section describes how the department issues benefits, requirements to endorse warrants, how and when the department provides benefits, the allowable use of cash and food assistance benefits, and the replacement of benefits and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

Use of Benefits - Benefit Issuances

Created on: 
Jun 09 2017

Revised June 9, 2017


This section describes how the department issues benefits, requirements to endorse warrants, how and when the department provides benefits, the allowable use of cash and food assistance benefits, and the replacement of benefits. 

WAC 388-412-0046  What is the purpose of DSHS cash and food assistance benefits and how can I use my benefits?

WAC 388-460-0035  When is a protective payee assigned for mismanagement of funds?

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-412-0046

1.    Use of Cash and Food Assistance Checklist

a.      Review form  DSHS 14-520, Your DSHS Cash or Food Benefits with clients during the interview process at application and eligibility review to ensure that the household understands:

i.  The allowable use of DSHS benefits;

ii.  The illegal uses, including the purchase of marijuana and/or marijuana-based products with EBT cards or cash from the EBT cards; and

iii.  The penalties for illegal use of benefits.

b.    Request that the head of household or authorized representative sign the 14-520 and send the document as file only for the client's electronic case record (ECR).

If the client refuses to sign the form or fails to return the signed form, do not deny the application or terminate assistance.  Signing the form is not a condition of eligibility.

2.    Referrals to the Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA)

Refer allegations of reported misuse of cash or food assistance benefits to OFA utilizing the Barcode referral for FRED.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-460-0035

  1. A protective payee will be assigned when the Office of Fraud Accountability (OFA) determines that a customer has used their EBT cash assistance two or more times in a prohibited location.

When a worker receives the DSHS-FRED form from OFA identifying use in a prohibited location, review the ECR for prior offenses (document type FR)

  1. If there is a prior offense, a protective payee must be assigned. 

  2. The worker will:

    1. Notify Social Services Specialists through Barcode tickle to @SOC

  3. The Social Services Specialist will:

    1. Assign a protective payee (see Payees on Benefit Issuances - Protective Payees)

    2. Input a -COMM tickle to 900@FIN for input of protective payee information into ACES

  4. The worker who receives the tickle will:

    1. Input the Authorized Representative information under Contact Information in ACES 3G




Basic Food - Benefit Issuances

Revised March 25, 2011


WAC 388-412-0015 General information about your Basic Food allotments.

 Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-412-0015

Prorating Benefits

Subtract the date of application from 31 and divide the result by 30. Multiply the result by a full month benefit amount.Round down to the nearest dollar.

EXAMPLE The date of application is the 20th of the month. The assistance unit is eligible for $200 for a full month. 
31 - 20 = 11
11 ÷ 30 = .367
0.367 x $200 = $73.40
$73.40 = $73.00 (the prorated amount)

Cash Assistance - Benefit Issuances

Revised March 25, 2011


WAC 388-412-0005 General information about your cash benefits

ACES Procedures

When and How Benefits are Delivered

Created on: 
May 04 2018

Revised December 6, 2013

WAC 388-412-0020 When do I get my benefits?

WAC 388-412-0025 How do I receive my benefits?

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-412-0025

NOTE: If benefits are deposited into an EBT account just before the benefits are expunged, the new deposit will also be expunged along with the stale (inactive) benefits. If the household asks us to replace the benefits, the worker should notify State Office EBT staff to replace the cash benefits and food benefits that were issued less than a year from the date they requested the replacement.
NOTE: State and federal regulations do not allow cash or food benefits to be transferred to individuals who were not a part of the AU. These benefits are not part of the deceased client’s estate. 

The Office of Accounting Services (OAS) holds the funds from cash benefits issued to someone in the form of a state warrant (check). Warrants are stale-dated at the 180 days from issuance based on the statute of limitations.   

The department uses expunged Basic Food benefits to reduce any outstanding Basic Food overpayments. The DSHS Office of Financial Recovery automatically uses any expunged Basic Food benefits to reduce person's outstanding overpayment balance.

NOTE: See the EBT Training Manual for additional information on expunged benefits.

Normally we require that mail we send must be returned if the post office knows that the client does not live at the residence.  However, if a client requests the post office to hold their mail due to a temporary absence (i.e., vacation or hospital stay), the post office may hold mail that we send.

  1. Washington’s Quest Card:
    1. Most initial EBT cards and all Alternate Cardholder cards are issued over the counter by the local office.  Replacement cards can be issued over the counter if a client meets one of the following criteria:
      1. An administrative error was made while issuing the previous card;
      2. The client lives in a domestic violence (DV) shelter;
      3. The client has a General Delivery address;
      4. The previous card was destroyed in a natural disaster;
      5. The previous card was mailed to the wrong address or was returned to the EBT card vendor; or
      6. The client's case is closed and their address is incorrect in the EBT card vendor system;
      7. The customer brings their broken card into the CSO;
      8. Card must be replaced due to merging of ACES system client ID numbers.
    2. Clients requesting a replacement card or who are unable to come to the office for an initial card, receive their cards by mail through the EBT card vendor.
    • Mailed cards could take seven to ten business days to arrive.
    1. The Washington State Quest Card is accepted in most ATMs and food retailers across the country.
  2. When EBT benefits can be cancelled (Pending Voids): A "pending void" applies to a window of time between ACES deadline and when the funds become available to the client. You cannot void a partial amount except in one circumstance. Generally, the full issuance amount must be voided.
    To process a "pending void", the following conditions must occur:
    1. Issuance has occurred for the benefit month;
    2. The cash or Basic Food case is closed for one of the following ACES reason codes:
    • (244) (248) Head of household not eligible (Every individual has to be closed with reason code 244, causing the AU to be closed for reason code 248 before the pending void action applies).
    • (557) AU request (Reason Code 557 voids all benefits if entered at the AU level or partial benefits at the client level).
    • (210) (248) Failed residency requirements (Every individual has to be closed with reason code 210, causing the AU to be closed for reason code 248 before the pending void action applies).
  3. EBT benefits can be recovered from EBT account prior to be expunged:
    Benefits may be removed from an account when we discover that a client is deceased and there are no other eligible members.  If the client died prior to the issuance month for cash benefits, we attempt a pending void to get the benefits back.  If we cannot complete a pending void, we contact EBT headquarters staff using Barcode to remove the issuance month’s benefits.  The case is then closed in ACES (See ACES User Manual,  Close an Assistance Unit/Client, Manually Close an AU/Client).
  4. Cancelled (expunged) benefits:
    Benefits in an EBT cash or food account that are cancelled (expunged) if there is no withdrawal/debit from the account for 365 days.  Cash and Basic Food accounts age separately depending on the last withdrawal date from the specific account. A debit in one account does not update the inactive status of the other account.
    1. Replacing expunged benefits.
      1. Expunged cash benefits may be replaced to the head of household or any other remaining household member at any time.
      2. Expunged food benefits may only be replaced if the benefits were deposited and available to the client less than 365-days from the date of the client request.
      3. Replace food and/or cash benefits according to instructions in the EBT manual under 4.10 Replacement of EBT Benefits to Clients.
    1. Replacement of warrants (checks):    
    • Clients can have a stale-dated warrant replaced by contacting the local office or calling OAS at (360) 664-5753.   
    • OAS holds funds from stale-dated warrants for two years. After two years, they send the funds to the Department of Revenue to hold until the payee claims these benefits.
    • OAS does not replace any other type of benefit.
    1. Expunged Basic Food & outstanding overpayments:
  5. Client can ask Post Office to hold mail:
  6. Types of allotments:
    1. An initial allotment is the first allotment issued to an assistance unit during a month.
    2. A supplemental allotment is any allotment after the initial allotment in a month including an issuance of benefits for a past period that a client was eligible to get (restoration of lost benefits).  This does not include replacement of lost benefits.
  7. Drug and alcohol treatment center as alternate card holder:

If a client receives Basic Food benefits while they are a resident of a qualified drug and alcohol treatment center under WAC 388-408-0040, the facility will be an alternate card holder even if the client does not sign to authorize them as an alternate card holder.


Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-412-0025

Clients may have their cash assistance deposited directly into a checking or savings account by completing the Direct Deposit Enrollment - DSHS 14-432 and returning the completed form to the address on page 2 of the form, along with a pre-printed voided check, pre-printed deposit slip, or a printout from the financial institution, as this is required to complete the enrollment process.

A client who wants another person to have access to their benefits must authorize the person to be an alternate card holder.

NOTE: A Quest card for an alternate card holder cannot be mailed.  The person must come into the CSO to pick up the card.  There isn't a mechanism in EBT card vendor's system to mail it.

If a responsible member of the AU cannot access the benefits for the AU because the head of household cannot complete and sign the Alternate Card Holder Authorization due to incapacity or other circumstances, document the circumstances in the case record and authorize the issuance of a Quest card for the responsible member as an alternate card holder.

If a client contacts you about wanting to stop receiving their benefits through EFT (Direct Deposit), you have two options to assist the client.  You may delete the banking information on the EFTR screen in ACES main-frame, or you may inform the client to call the toll free number at 1-888-235-2954.

Checks for cash benefits can be mailed to a Post Office box or the CSO when a payee meets WAC 388-412-0025(1)(c) and makes this request in writing.  If a client requests that checks be mailed to an address other than their residence address:

  1. Inactive accounts:
    If you receive an ACES alert that a client's EBT account has been inactive for 60 days contact the client to determine why they have not used their benefits.
    1. If they don't know how to use their EBT card, explain how to access their benefits;
    2. If they don't need the benefits, ask the client if there is other income or resources available to them.
    3. Explain that if they do not use their account for a period of 365 days the benefits in their EBT account are expunged. Expunged food benefits issued a year or more ago cannot be replaced.
    4. Inactive benefits are automatically expunged from the clients' accounts after 365 days of nonuse.
  2. Direct deposit or Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT):
    1. When a client, or a financial institution, returns the completed form and corresponding documents to you, send the form and corresponding documents to the Tacoma HIU by:
      • Forwarding the form and documents to MS (Mail Stop) N27-26; or
      • Faxing this form to 1-888-338-7410.
    2. Provide the client with the toll free number to call if they have questions about EFT:  1-888-235-2954.
  3. Client chooses an alternate card holder:
    1. Explain to the client that an alternate card holder has access to all of the benefits in the client's EBT account (cash or food access only, if the client requests it);
    2. If the client wants to authorize another person to be an Alternate Card Holder, have the client complete and sign the DSHS 27-130, Alternate Card Holder Authorization; and
    3. When the form is returned, authorize the issuance of a Quest card for the alternate cardholder.
  4. Assigning an alternate card holder in special circumstances:  See EBT Manual 2.12.E.
  5. Client wants to end or change EFT:
    If a client wants to make a change to their EFT, provide them with the following phone number so they can have the change made: 1-888-235-2954.
    For details on Financial Worker procedures stopping/deleting EFT for active cash AUs, please refer to Chapter 10.8, section C (1) of the EBT Manual. For details on the procedures for written requests to EBT State HQ, please go to section C (2).
  6. Post Office Box for Warrants:
    1. Verify the client’s current living situation;
    2. Evaluate the client’s reasons for wanting the check mailed;
    3. Notify the client of the decision;
    4. Make the necessary changes in ACES, if approved;
    5. Notify the appropriate staff of the address change;
    6. Document the action taken; and
    7. Create an alert to review the situation at least once every six months.
  7. Combined issuance:
    Authorize benefits at the same time for the month of application and the following month when a client applies on or after the 16th of the month.

ACES Procedures

See Issuances

Loss, Theft, Destruction or Non-Receipt of a Warrant to Clients or Vendors

Revised March 25, 2011

WAC 388-412-0035 Loss, theft, destruction or nonreceipt of a warrant issued to clients and vendors.

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-412-0035

  1. The department does not replace lost or stolen cash. Do not replace a warrant which was endorsed by the payee as this is considered to be the same as cash.
  2. The Office of the State Treasurer (OST) Inquiry System is used to determine whether a warrant was endorsed and redeemed. If a warrant was redeemed but the client claims they have not received or endorsed the warrant, the worker must determine if the warrant should be replaced.
  3. If a client makes numerous requests for replacement warrants the department is to investigate the need for a protective payee and establish one, if it is in the best interest of the client to do so.
  4. If the original warrant is redeemed by the state treasurer, the department takes the necessary action to collect repayment.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-412-0035

  1. Reported loss:
    1. The worker:
      1. Gets all facts surrounding the report of loss;
      2. Explains to the client that when the Division of Fraud determines that both the original and replacement warrants are endorsed by the client:
        1. An intentional overpayment is established;
        2. The grant is reduced by ten percent; and
        3. May be referred to the county prosecutor for criminal prosecution.
      3. Assesses the reported facts and make a judgment of the validity of the report using the following sources:
        1. The Registration and Control of Negotiable (RCN) program to determine if the warrant returned to the CSO; If not:
        2. OST to determine if the warrant was redeemed.
      4. Requires the payee to report the non-receipt or theft to the post office or police, as appropriate;
      5. Determines an appropriate course of action; and
      6. Informs the client in writing of the action taken.
    2. If the worker decides to replace the warrant:, the worker:
      1. Asks the payee to sign a DSHS 07-008(X) Affidavit of Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed Warrant. Follow the forms instruction for distribution of the form.
      2. Authorizes a replacement warrant; and
      3. Documents all actions taken.
  2. Redeemed warrants and affidavits of forged endorsement:  If the original warrant that was replaced is redeemed, Disbursements sends the CSO a copy of the signed warrant for the client to examine.
    1. When the CSO receives this copy, the worker sends a letter to the payee within 10 days asking the payee to come to the CSO to examine the signature.
    2. When the payee examines the signature and declares it is a forgery, the worker:
      1. Has the payee sign a DSHS 09-052(X), Affidavit of Forged Endorsement in the presence of a notary; and
      2. Sends the DSHS 09-052(X) with a copy of the DSHS 07-008(X) to Disbursements.
    3. If the payee declares the signature is theirs, the worker:
      1. Sends a memorandum to Disbursements immediately;
      2. Determines if there was intent to commit fraud;
      3. Establishes an overpayment if the payee benefitted from both the original and replacement warrants; and
      4. Sends a DSHS 02-182(X), DFI Referral if there was intent to commit fraud.
    NOTE: The payee may have signed both warrants but the payee may not have realized that they did due to confusion or mental deficiency. If unsure of intent, establish the overpayment based on DFI's findings.

    Office of Accounting Services

    Central Operations, SOL Desk
    PO Box 45845
    MS:  45845
    Olympia, WA  98405-5845

    Requests for a warrant are processed weekly and returned via campus

    1. If the payee is not sure if the signature is theirs, the worker:
      1. Sends a DSHS 02-182(X) attaching a copy of the endorsed warrant;
      2. Takes the appropriate action based on DFI's findings;
      3. Has the client sign the DSHS 09-052(X) when DFI determines that the payee did not redeem both warrants; and
      4. Sends the DSHS 09-052(X) to Disbursements.
    2. If the payee does not come into the CSO to examine the signature, the worker:
      1. Sends a DSHS 09-182(X) to DFI to determine if there was intent to commit fraud; and
      2. Take appropriate action based on DFI's findings
  3. Replacing Lost or Out-of-Date SSP Warrants
    1. When a payee reports a lost SSP warrant, ask the payee to sign a DSHS 07-008(X) Affidavit of Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed Warrant.
    2. Send the notarized affidavit along with the worker's name and phone number to the address at the top of the form.
    3. If the warrant is out-of-date, send the warrant along with a note requesting replacement. Include the worker's name and phone number.  Send to:
  4. Requesting Copies of Warrants:
    1. To receive a copy of a warrant, contact your regional fiscal office.
    2. Include the following information in the request 
      1. Warrant number;
      2. Date on the warrant;
      3. Amount of warrant; and
      4. Payee name.

Endorsing the Warrant

Revised March 25, 2011


WAC 388-412-0010  Endorsing the warrant.


Revised June 19, 2015


WAC 388-412-0040 Can I get my benefits replaced?

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-412-0040

  1. When a client reports the loss of benefits from their EBT account (see below #4 for replacing benefits that paid for food destroyed in a disaster or household misfortune):
    1. Review the client's EBT account to verify that benefits were issued;
    2. Determine if we can replace this type of loss;
    3. Access the EBT functions through the drop-down menus in “BarCode AU/Cl Search” or from the clients Electronic Case Record “ECR”.
      • Complete the new “Authorize EBT Replacement” screen as described in the EBT Manual at:  Replace EBT Benefits to a Client. Once you complete the screen the EBT staff will work their end of the system and generate the new E002 tickler to inform you of the outcome.
      • Complete the “Authorize EBT Recovery” screen as described in the EBT Manual at: Recover Benefits from an EBT Account. Once you complete the screen the EBT staff will work their end of the system and generate the new E003 tickler to inform you of the outcome. 
  2. Loss due to administrative error:
    • If the department makes an error that causes a loss of benefits to the client such as linking a Quest card to another client's account, we replace those lost benefits.
    • Follow the procedures in Replacing EBT Benefits (1. above).
    • EBT staff will take the steps necessary to replace the benefits and can help identify who incorrectly used the benefits
  3. Replacement of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for cash benefits:
    • When a client reports that he or she did not get a deposit of cash benefits in an account, tell the client to call the Direct Deposit Input Unit at 1-888-235-2954.
    • Do not take any further actions or replace the cash benefits unless the EFT Manager notifies you.
  4. Food destroyed in a household disaster or misfortune when the food was purchased with Basic Food benefits: 
    • A household disaster or misfortune includes events such as a house fire, long-term power outage, other weather-related mishaps, or refrigerator/freezer breakdown, that was caused by reasons beyond the client's control. 
EXAMPLE 1: A wind storm caused the client to lose power for several days. Basic Food benefits can be replaced in this situation. 
EXAMPLE 2: The client lost power for several days because he/she failed to pay the electricity bill. Basic Food benefits are not replaced in this situation.
  • Food replaced due to a household disaster or misfortune does not require the federal government to declare a portion of the state as a disaster area.
  • When a client requests replacement of food that was destroyed in a household disaster or misfortune:
    1. Determine if the client reported the loss timely;
    2. Verify the disaster or misfortune through a collateral contact such as the fire or police departments, utility companies, local media, the Red Cross, an insurance agent, or home visit;
    3. Replace the amount of food that was destroyed up to the amount of the household's monthly allotment. Use the client's statement when considering the amount of benefits to replace. If the client's statement is questionable, consider when the client received benefits, when the food was destroyed, and the day of the month of the disaster;
    4. Document the replacement in the case record.
    5. See link to ACES Procedures below.

NOTE: We can only replace the value of the amount of food lost in a household disaster, up to the household's monthly allotment. We do not replace food benefits more than the amount: 

  • Lost in the household disaster; or 
  • Issued to the household. 
  1. Food destroyed in a federally declared disaster when the food was purchased with Basic Food benefits:
  2. Replacing out-of state food benefits:
    1. Verify that benefits were issued but not returned to the public assistance office in the other state.
    2. Ask the client to sign a statement that they did not receive the benefits. 
    3. Document the loss on the (Remarks) screen.
    4. Determine eligibility for Basic Food by using the regular procedures; and
    5. Inform the other state that benefits were issued in Washington and to cancel the benefits if they are returned

ACES Procedures

Returning a Warrant

Revised March 25, 2011


WAC 388-412-0030  Returning a warrant.