When and How Benefits are Delivered

Created on: 
May 04 2018

Revised February 10th, 2022

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: 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;
      9. The customer was recently released from a corrections facility or a chemical dependency inpatient treatment center and their EBT card was not returned to them. 
    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.
      1. Mailed cards could take seven to ten business days to arrive.
    3. 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 274 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.
    2. 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 274 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 274 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