Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to DSHS Economic Services Administration's Frequently Asked Questions!

Welfare Fraud is fraud against the programs of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), including unlawful practices in obtaining cash assistance, medical assistance, and/or food assistance. It is the intentional misstatement or failure to reveal information affecting eligibility resulting in an overpayment. For further information about fraud against DSHS, please review the Eligibility A-Z Manual Fraud Section, or see the entire EAZ Manual.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) has the authority to investigate the following allegations:

Unreported Employment: The client is suspected of not reporting employment.

Unearned Income: The client is suspected of not reporting the receipt of recurring income not derived from employment.

Unreported Assets: The client is suspected of having one or more of the following assets: Real estate, vehicles, boats, motor homes, non-recurring monetary holdings, etc.

Unreported Child Support: The client is suspected of receiving unreported child support payments.

Unreported Marriage: The client is suspected of not reporting a marriage that may affect the grant amount.

Absent Parent in Home: The client is suspected of not reporting the presence of an absent parent in the home. This includes stepparents.

Child Out of Home: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving benefits for a child not present in the home.

Household Composition: The client is suspected of receiving assistance for an ineligible dependent or has not accurately reported the correct number of persons living in the household.

Address Verification: The client is suspected of not reporting their address information correctly.

Duplicate Grants: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving grants under multiple names.

False Identity: The client is suspected of submitting false identification to apply for or obtain a grant; or may be working under a false identity.

Felony Drug Conviction/Warrant: The client is suspected of having a felony drug conviction after August 26, 1996, or is wanted on an outstanding felony warrant, which would make the client ineligible for welfare benefits.

Child Care Fraud: The client is suspected of improperly receiving child care payments or reporting a false provider.

EBT Fraud: The client is suspected of fraudulently using their Quest card or allowing their Quest card to be used by an unauthorized person.

Other: The client is suspected of any other improper procedure not covered by the other categories.


Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

In a hearing about your child support obligation an ALJ applies the Washington State Child Support Schedule in calculating your gross income, your net income, and your monthly child support obligation.

You may ask an ALJ to consider some or all of the following information:

  • What deductions, including the amount of income you may be putting aside for your retirement, should be considered in determining your net income.
  • Whether income from overtime or a second job should be included or excluded. The ALJ considers the reason a parent works the overtime or second job in making this decision.
  • Whether or not to impute income to you because you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
  • Whether there are circumstances which would make it unjust to apply the self-support reserve (low income limitation) in deciding the amount of the child support obligation.
  • Whether it is unfair or presents a hardship to the noncustodial parent to require the presumptive minimum payment of $50.00 per month per child, or why it would be unfair or would present a hardship to the custodial parent if the child support order was less than the presumptive minimum amount.
  • If the obligation for the noncustodial parent's biological and legal children exceeds 45 percent of his or her net income, whether there is "good cause" (a sufficient legal or factual reason) not to apply the 45 percent limitation.
  • Any other fact about either parent's particular situation that makes the noncustodial parent more or less able to provide child support than other people with a similar income and number of children, or that makes the custodial parent require more or less child support than other people with a similar income and number of children.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

  • If you are paying by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or using the Child Support Internet Payment System (CSIPS), follow the directions for that program.
  • If you are sending in a check, please give us the following information for each employee covered by your payment:
  • Employee name
  • Employee SSN or account number (listed on the OWI)
  • Payroll date
  • Total amount withheld from this employee's check
  • The OWI packet includes a form called "Employer Payment Identification Instructions." You can photocopy that and use it for future Payments, or you can download the form here

  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868

A child support order may include a financial support obligation, a medical support obligation, or both.

  • When DCS establishes an administrative child support obligation, the support order usually contains both a financial support obligation and a medical support obligation. The administrative order sets the medical support obligations for both parents of the children.
    • Financial support is the obligation to make monthly payments towards the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for the child or children.
    • Medical support includes the obligation to provide health insurance coverage or to pay a portion of any health care costs.
  • Under certain circumstances, a custodial parent who receives state medical assistance for a child or children may waive establishment of the financial support obligation. DCS will then establish an order for medical support only.
  • If DCS establishes an order for medical support only, either party may also seek to establish a current financial support obligation. That party must apply for full enforcement services and then petition to modify the existing order. DCS may also petition to modify the order when establishment of a current financial support obligation is required by Federal IV-D program rules.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

A noncustodial parent (NCP) who objects to a NFFR has the burden of establishing any defenses to liability. Defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Proof of previous payment;
  • Proving the existence of a superior court order, tribal court order, or administrative order that sets the NCP's support obligation or specifically relieves the NCP of a support obligation for the child or children named in the notice;
  • Claiming that the party is not a responsible parent as defined by RCW 74.20A.020(7);
  • Claiming that the amount requested in the notice is inconsistent with the Washington state child support schedule, Chapter 26.19 RCW;
  • Equitable estoppel, subject to WAC 388-14A-6500; or
  • Any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.

A dependent child's or a custodial parent's ineligibility to receive public assistance is not a defense to the establishment of a support obligation.

Wrongful Deprivation

An NCP may be excused from providing support for a dependent child if the NCP is the legal custodian of the child and has been wrongfully deprived of physical custody of the child. The NCP may be excused only for any period during which the NCP was wrongfully deprived of custody. The NCP must establish that:

  • A court of competent jurisdiction of any state has entered an order giving legal and physical custody of the child to the NCP;
  • The custody order has not been modified, superseded, or dismissed;
  • The child was taken or enticed from the NCP's physical custody and the NCP has not subsequently assented to deprivation. Proof of enticement requires more than a showing that the child is allowed to live without certain restrictions the NCP would impose; and
  • Within a reasonable time after deprivation, the NCP exerted and continues to exert reasonable efforts to regain physical custody of the child.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

 

There are many resources available for victims and survivors of domestic violence around the state. The DSHS Children's Administration gives information about resources both inside and outside of DSHS online click here.

If you are interested in the Secretary of State's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), you can find information about ACP at https://www.sos.wa.gov/acp/.

Different programs have different coverage. To find out if a specific item is covered, you can ask your medical provider or call 1-800-562-3022 (or TTY at 1-800-848-5429).

Administrative Support Order Establishment

DCS will establish support administratively using the Washington State Child Support Schedule when any of the following are true:

  1. New! July 2012 - Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility
  2. There is no court order or administrative support order in any jurisdiction.
  3. The court order is silent about the non-custodial parent paying support.
  4. The court order does not set support as a fixed amount, but the amount is determinable.
  5. The non-custodial father has a valid acknowledgement of paternity on file with a state.

Learn more about how DCS establishes administrative orders. If you think that current child support on your administrative order should change because circumstances have changed, contact DCS. A modification may be appropriate.

Learn more about administrative order modification.


Full Enforcement or Collection Services

DCS enforces all current and back support accrued under a valid child support order.

DCS includes support ordered spousal support and child-care costs only in conjunction with current support.

DCS only collects interest on back support when reduced to a judgment.

Enforcement includes wage withholding, other income withholding, medical enforcement, IRS tax refund attachment, or interstate referral. Services may include license revocation, personal property seizure, or referral for contempt or federal criminal non-support.

Families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Children or Medicaid automatically receive full-collection services.

Locate Services

DCS provides services to custodial parents who are unable to locate the non-custodial responsible parent for the purposes of collecting child support. DCS will ask other states for help in locating the non-custodial parent. When the non-custodial parent is located, you will be sent an application for services. The non-custodial parent's address may not be released to you without consent.

Medical Enforcement

In addition to current child support, DCS may enforce medical support requirements for an obligated parent to provide insurance available through the obligated parent's employer or union. Only a person receiving Medicaid can ask DCS to enforce medical support only. If you have medical coverage (not Medicaid) for the child, you may ask DCS to enforce only child support. Learn more about medical enforcement.

Paternity Establishment

DCS provides services to determine the father of a child. The child must be under the age of eighteen. 
Read more about parentage establishment.

Payment Processing Services Only (PSO)

If your support order states that payments must be made to the Washington State Support Registry, DCS processes and disburses payments to the payee on the order. When payments are late or past due, DCS takes no enforcement action on your case. When you move, you must give the State Registry your new address.

Post-secondary Educational Support

DCS will provide services for children with court orders for post-secondary educational support. The student must be enrolled in an accredited academic or vocational school, be in a regular course of study, and be in good academic standing. DCS will enforce educational support only if payable to the parent or to the child.

  • Honor another state's withholding order (make sure you submit Payments (to the right place!)
  • Washington law regarding the 50% limitation applies even to other state's withholding orders
  • If you receive an OWI from DCS and another state for the same employee, You must honor both orders, equally. If there is insufficient income to pay all of the current support and arrears that are requested, please contact DCS for assistance in calculating the amount to send to each state.

  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868

All parties to the case have the right to file a petition in a state court or a tribal court (if eligible). The parties may do so at any time. If you file a petition in a court, you must serve notice of the action on the Prosecuting Attorney's office in the county where you file and on the other party to your child support case. You also must tell DCS of your action.

  • Proceeding in a court does not stop the notice from becoming a final order unless you get a court order that stops the DCS action.
  • Even if you want a court to set your support amount, you should still request a hearing on this notice within the required time limit.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

If You Disagree With the Notice

If you disagree with the notice and want to try to change the terms of the notice, you must object and/or ask for a hearing.

  • To object, contact your Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) or complete and return the Objection/Request for Hearing form which was included with the notice.
  • Contact your SEO with your concerns and attempt to resolve the issue. This can include anything from the amount of the proposed child support obligation, the proposed amount of arrears owed, or any other issue addressed in the notice.
  • You must object in a timely manner.
    • The noncustodial parent must object within 20 days of the date the notice was received. If the notice was served outside of Washington, the objection must be made within 60 days of the date received.
    • A custodial parent or physical custodian who disagrees with the notice must object within 20 days of the date the notice was received.
    • If the objection or request for a hearing is received by DCS within the time frames above, it will stay any collection actions until such time as a final administrative order is entered.
  • For more specific information, please refer to pages 4 and 5 of the notice you received.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Legal immigrants are foreign-born people legally admitted to the U.S. Undocumented immigrants, also called illegal aliens, are foreign-born people who do not possess a valid visa or other immigration documentation, because they entered the U.S. without inspection, stayed longer than their temporary visa permitted, or otherwise violated the terms under which they were admitted.

The majority of services you receive from DSHS are now available online here: Apply for Services or via phone by contacting the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-501-2233.

If you are receiving TANF or Disability Lifeline (formerly General Assistance) benefits you may have a specific case worker and/or social worker. To reach your local office worker you may call the number provided by the person you wish to contact. If that person is not available, you have the option of leaving a message on voice mail or switching your call to another person. If the person you call does not return your call within 24 hours, or if your call does not go through, call 1-877-501-2233 to send a message to your worker.

DCS will provide current support services until the child emancipates, leaves the custodian's household, or goes to live with the non-custodial parent. DCS will continue to collect support arrears unless the parties reconcile.

If you want DCS to stop non-assistance services when support is still payable, you must send DCS a letter. DCS must provide payment processing services if the support order makes support payable through the Washington State Support Registry.

When DCS is unable to locate the non-custodial parent or the non-custodial parent's assets for three consecutive years, DCS may close your case. You will be notified if DCS intends to close your case. You have the right to appeal the closure.

Check box 7 on the Employer Response form, enter the date Part B was sent, and send the Employer Response to DCS.

  • DCS first sends a Noncompliance Warning letter to advise the party of the action to take to be in compliance with the inquiry, subpoena, withholding notice, or notice of enrollment.
  • If the party refuses to comply, DCS issues a Notice of Noncompliance. The Notice shows the amount of support owed by the non-complying party, the period for which it is owed, and any fines or penalties assessed for noncompliance.
  • The party has 20 days to comply or contact DCS to set up a payment agreement, or to request an adjudicative proceeding if they contest the amounts on the notice. DCS staff attempt to resolve the matter before holding the adjudicative proceeding.
  • If the party takes no action after receiving the Notice of Noncompliance, DCS will take enforcement action against the non-complying party's assets. This may include business license suspension.

Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

Assuming the cost of the children's premium does not exceed the limit shown on the Notice, the answer depends on whether or not the employer has to enroll just the children or enroll both the employee and the children.

When the employer has to enroll only the children, the cost of the children's premium plus the cash support amount cannot exceed the 50% limit. For example: The employee is already enrolled and paying a premium of $28. The additional cost to enroll the children is $46. The employer should enroll the children if the cash support amount plus the children's premium cost ($46) does not exceed 50% of the employee's net disposable income.

When the employer has to enroll both the employee and children, the cost of both the employee's and children's premium plus the cash support amount cannot exceed the 50% limit. For example: The employee is not enrolled. The cost to enroll the employee is $20.50. The additional cost to enroll the children is $39.50. The total for both is $60. The employer should enroll the employee and children if the cash support amount plus the employee's and children's premium cost ($60) does not exceed 50% of the employee's net disposable income.

When the children or the employee and children cannot be enrolled because the premium plus the cash support amount exceeds the 50% limit, check box 5 on the Employer Response form and send the form to DCS. DCS may call you when you mark box 5. To avoid a call, you are welcome to note on the form that the cash support plus the premium would exceed the 50% withholding limit. If the plan administrator has already added the children to the plan, contact the plan administrator to tell them the children cannot be added.

The Division of Child Support will continue to send you pass-through payments for collections it receives before May 1, 2011. The last day a collection can be received for DCS to send you a pass-through payment is April 30, 2011.


Important Notice To Custodial Parents Receiving Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF):

Between October 1, 2008, and April 30, 2011, federal and state law allowed the Division of Child Support (DCS) to send a portion of child support collections to a custodian of minor children while the custodian received a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant. This amount of child support paid to custodians who received TANF during this period was called a child support pass-through payment. Effective May 1, 2011, Washington State law suspends pass-through payments. DCS must stop sending pass-through child support payments to custodial parents receiving TANF for any collections received by DCS on or after May 1, 2011.

If you have questions, or you would like additional information about the suspension of child support pass-through payments, please refer to the following Frequently Asked Questions, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS (800-442-5437).

The IRS sends payments to DCS about six weeks after the filing of the tax return. Either the noncustodial parent or the joint-return spouse may request an IRS administrative review to contest attachment. DCS must hold the IRS funds awaiting the hearing decision.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

Click here to read the Division of Child Support's Privacy Notice.

    


Also please see Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility in FAQ question topics.