Am I eligible for DSHS benefits if I have an arrest warrant or violated probation or parole?

If you are a fleeing felon, you are not eligible for many federal and state public benefits. This publication defines "fleeing felon" and discusses the benefits that are affected. Publication #7406EN.

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you receive or want to receive DSHS benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

It depends. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) may suspend your benefits when all these are true:

  • A local law enforcement officer presents DSHS with a felony arrest warrant listing one of these offenses: Escape from Custody, Flight to Avoid Prosecution or Confinement, or Flight-escape. If you have an arrest warrant for any other offenses, you are still eligible for DSHS benefits.
  • The officer with the warrant is acting in an official position to get information on you.
  • You are the person the warrant names.

DSHS calls this the “fleeing felon” rule.
DSHS may also suspend your benefits if you are violating a condition of probation or parole, and both these are true:

  • An agency (administrative) or court order has found you in violation of your parole or probation; AND
  • A law enforcement agency is actively looking for you to enforce the conditions of your parole or probation. This means a law enforcement agency intends to arrest you for a probation or parole violation within:
  • Thirty days from the date DSHS requests info about the violation, OR
  • Twenty days from the date the law enforcement agency asks DSHS for info.

Yes. Your benefits for these federal programs may be suspended:

  • Social Security retirement
  • Social Security Disability
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Food assistance
  • TANF

Your benefits for these state programs may stop:

  • SFA
  • Adult Blind and Disabled (ABD) cash
  • Referral to the HEN program
  • Basic Food Assistance
  • PWA (Pregnant Women Assistance)

We only address here rules for public benefit programs administered by DSHS. For other public benefit eligibility, read these:

The rest of your family may still be eligible, even if you are not. The rest of your family will be eligible if DSHS decides they are eligible, after counting your income.

  • Your child, who is eligible on their own can get TANF or SFA.
  • If you are pregnant, you can keep your SFA benefits until the pregnancy ends. Your newborn child may get benefits if eligible on their own.
  • Your spouse will be eligible for dependent benefits unless they also are avoiding felony prosecution or confinement or have violated their probation or parole.

Yes. This rule can apply to juveniles. Try to get an attorney right away. See below.

Probably not if it is for fleeing prosecution or confinement or you have a violation. It could cause problems down the line. Try to take care of the outstanding warrant before applying. But if it is a warrant for other offenses, do apply.

  • Ask for an Administrative Hearing and Continuing Benefits.  You have 90 days to do this. But to keep getting benefits until the hearing, you must ask for the hearing within 10 days of the date of the notice or before the effective date of the proposed action. If DSHS keeps paying your benefits and an administrative law judge agrees you were not eligible, because you have an arrest warrant for fleeing prosecution or confinement or violating probation or parole, DSHS may ask you to pay back up to 60 days of benefits. Read Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing.

If you call to ask for a hearing, write DSHS a letter the same day asking for the hearing and continuing benefits. Keep a copy of the letter. Mail, fax, or email DSHS a copy.

  • Address the Underlying Warrant or Violation. When DSHS notified you about the warrant or violation, it should have told you:
  • Where the warrant or violation was issued.
  • The date it was issued.
  • Why it was issued.

* If this info is not in the notice, ask DSHS for it in writing.

After you get this info, contact the agency that issued the warrant or violation to resolve it. First, get a copy of the warrant or violation from the court or agency that issued it. Next, contact the office that asked the court or agency to issue it. This is often the county prosecutor’s office.
Look at the warrant or violation. See who signed it or if it has an address. You must work with this office to take care of the warrant or violation. The local public defender might be able to help. If you can prove you have addressed the warrant or violation, or it was issued to the wrong person, you should be able to get it dismissed.
Some reasons for a dismissing a warrant include:

  • The warrant or violation was issued to someone else with the same name as you.
  •  It was issued due to identity theft.
  • You were fleeing an abusive relationship.
  • You have a low income. You could not afford to stay there while the criminal matter was resolved.
  • The warrant or violation was issued due to administrative error. Examples: you paid the restitution. The parole officer never gave you credit for it. Or you did register your new address with the parole officer even though she says you did not.

If your situation is not here but is similar, you may still be able to clear the warrant.
If the office that issued the warrant or violation will not dismiss it, you must meet the terms of the warrant or violation.
If you did not ask for a hearing within 90 days of getting DSHS’ notice that it was suspending your benefits, you must take care of the warrant or violation first.  Then you can reapply for benefits.

  • Deal with any overpayment issued. If you ask for continuing benefits while trying to take care of this and cannot get the warrant or violation dismissed, DSHS may send you a notice of overpayment. If this happens, read How to Fight a Cash/Food Stamp Overpayment.
Last Review and Update: Apr 08, 2022
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