There is no overpayment.
Example 1: DSHS says your car is worth more than allowed. You can prove its value is within the amount the rules allow.
Example 2: DSHS says your bank account has too much money in it. It is your grandmother's account. Your name is on it for your grandmother's convenience. Your grandmother gives DSHS a written statement confirming this.
Example 3: HCA says you got benefits for a time you did not live in Washington. You can prove you were only gone temporarily.
The overpayment amount may be less than the agency says. Ask them to double-check it. They often find mistakes. Give them any information you think will show you were eligible for all or part of the benefits. Be careful in doing this, though. DSHS might discover the overpayment was more than they thought. You could owe more!
Cash overpayments only: ask if DSHS collected any child support during the period the overpayment happened. If so, they should lower the overpayment amount by the amount of support they got.
You might have been eligible for other benefits. Any amount they should have paid you, and did not, is an underpayment.
Example 1: You asked for emergency assistance. You did not get any. You were eligible and should have gotten some.
Example 2: You reported an additional person in your family. You should have gotten more benefits. You did not.
The agency must subtract any underpayment they owe you from the overpayment amount. It does not matter how long ago the underpayment happened.
An unintentional overpayment was not your fault. Your income and resources are barely or not enough for basic expenses. You can ask the agency or judge to waive repayment under "equitable estoppel." A waiver means you will not have to pay back the overpayment. Read How to Present an Equitable Estoppel Defense to learn more.
If you disagree that the overpayment was intentional, CALL CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014 before trying to represent yourself. If you agree it was intentional, do not discuss it with the agency.
If the police arrest you on fraud charges, discuss the matter only with your lawyer. If you have criminal charges and cannot afford a lawyer, ask the court to appoint you one.