Your Rights Dealing with DSHS

Read about what services you can get from DSHS and what your rights are when dealing with this state agency. #7900EN.

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you live in Washington State.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, you should read this if you think you qualify for public assistance for families and individuals with low incomes. We discuss briefly here what assistance you can get from DSHS, and what your basic rights are regarding public assistance.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is a state government agency that provides many types of services and benefits to people who live in Washington State who need support to be safe and healthy. Visit to learn more.

You can apply for many services at DSHS, including:

This is not a complete list. Visit Washington Connection at to learn about other benefits and services you can apply for and apply for benefits online.

  • DSHS must let you apply to get benefits or services.
  • DSHS must give you a written decision on your application.
  • DSHS must let you see and get copies of anything in your DSHS file as soon as possible.
  • You have the right to talk to any DSHS employee's supervisor.
  • DSHS must grant your timely request for a hearing if you want to fight DSHS' decision to turn down (deny), lower, or stop (terminate) benefits. Read Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing to learn more.
  • DSHS may keep giving you benefits until the hearing, if you ask for the hearing within ten days of the notice.
  • DSHS may not retaliate against you for using your rights.
  • DSHS must give you an interpreter at no expense to you.
  • DSHS must give you notices and letters in your own language if you do not speak English or you have limited ability to speak English.
  • DSHS must give you an interpreter as soon as possible to help you in interviews, filling out forms in English, and answering DSHS' letters.

Read Interpreters for People with Limited English Proficiency to learn more.

* If you think DSHS is treating you unfairly due to your race or ethnicity, you can file a complaint. You can fill out the form at and follow its instructions. Or you can call the state Human Rights Commission at 1-800-233-3247.

Tell your DSHS worker that you need help. You can get special help called Necessary Supplemental Accommodations (NSA) in getting and keeping benefits if you have a health problem, or for other reasons like a hard time reading or communicating. Read DSHS Help for People with Disabilities: Necessary Supplemental Accommodations to learn more.

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Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Last Review and Update: Jul 11, 2022
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