Categorical Eligibility for Basic Food

Created on: 
Apr 01 2019

Revised April 30, 2019


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

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

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-414-0001

200 percent of Federal Poverty (FPL) based on Federal Poverty Guidelines published January 2019.

April 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020

Persons in AU

200 percent FPL

Persons in AU

200 percent FPL





















Add $737 for each person over 10 AU members. 

NOTE: 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 work requirements.​
NOTE: 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. 

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:

  1. CE does not meet all eligibility requirements for Basic Food if: 
    1. AUs ineligible based on Striker requirements under WAC 388-480-0001
    2. AUs disqualified for transferring countable resources based on Transfer of Property requirements under WAC 388-488-0010;
    3. A member of the AU is disqualified from Basic Food for an Intentional Program Violation (IPV); or
    4. The Head of Household is disqualified for not meeting Basic Food work requirements.
  2. CE based on gross countable income:
    1. 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.
    2. 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%.
    3. Clients are notified and authorized to receive this service through a text block on their approval letter for Basic Food.
  3. Reporting requirements for CE Households:
    Households must report if their gross monthly income is more than 130% of federal poverty 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.
  6. Residency:
    Households that are CE have the residency requirements deemed if residency verification is available from another program (TANF, SSI, ABD cash, etc.). 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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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: 

    California is a state where the SSI payments are specially increased to include the value of the food assistance allotment (cash-out state).  No one who receives SSI benefits and/or State supplementary payments as a resident of California is eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

    If a client stops receiving SSI benefits from a cash-out state and they move to Washington to establish residency here, 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.

  1. 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.

EXAMPLE 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 ABD 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 WAC 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.