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DSHS Benefits and Lump Sum Payments

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

A lump sum is any money you get once and do not expect to get regularly. Examples are a settlement from a court case, insurance claims or a back payment of benefits you are owed (such as from Social Security or L&I). You must report these payments to DSHS. Publication #7140EN

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What is a lump sum payment?

It is any money you get once and do not expect to get regularly. Examples:

  • Settlement from a court case.

  • Insurance claim.

  • Back payment of benefits you are owed (such as from Social Security or L&I).

I am getting cash or food assistance. Do I have to report getting a lump sum payment?

Yes. You must report getting that money by the tenth day of the following month. Example: you get a $5,000 settlement on May 20. You must report it to DSHS by June 10.

How will getting a lump sum affect my food assistance?

If you get food assistance, a lump sum payment for a past period is a resource. A lump sum for current or future months is income.

How will getting a lump sum affect my cash assistance?

If you get cash assistance, a lump sum payment awarded for wrongful death, personal injury, damage or loss of property counts is a resource. A lump sum received for any other reason is income.

If you are getting cash assistance and you get a lump sum to replace lost, stolen, or damaged property or pay medical bills, the funds do not count as income or resources for 60 days. The 60-day period starts the month after you get the payment. DSHS treats money left over after the 60 days as a resource.

Can I put the lump sum into a bank account or buying a car?

Maybe. You may have up to $3,000 in a savings account and a vehicle worth up to $5,000. (DSHS excludes the entire value of one vehicle if you use it to transport a physically disabled member of your household.) These are “exempt resources.”  You can still be eligible for cash assistance if your non-exempt assets do not exceed $1,000 in value.

*You can have up to $3,000 in savings only if you already get TANF. This exemption does not apply when you are applying for TANF.

I got a lump sum payment. I am now ineligible for cash and food assistance. Can I still get medical assistance?

Maybe. Some medical programs have no resource limits. Others have higher income limits than TANF does. Depending on your situation, you and your family may qualify for other medical assistance.  Be sure to ask that you be considered for all available medical programs.



This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of September 2017.

© 2017 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Last Review and Update: Sep 27, 2017