I applied for benefits. DSHS said no.

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Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

Read this for what to do if you apply for cash, food stamps, medical, or child care assistance from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) but they turn you down. #7100EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, you should read this if you live in Washington state. We will explain here what you can do if you applied for cash, food, or childcare assistance from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and they turned you down for (denied you) benefits.

It depends. The DSHS worker who went over your application might think any of these:

  • Your monthly income or things you own (your resources) does not meet their guidelines.

  • You or your family are not eligible to get the benefit you applied for. For example, you do not have a disability, or you are not within a certain age range.

  • You or your family are not citizens or a type of immigrant who can get the benefit you applied for.

  • You have not given DSHS information they need.

  • You have not done something DSHS' rules say you must.

DSHS must send you a notice that says all of these:

  • Which benefit you applied for.

  • Why the facts in your case do not make you eligible to get benefits.

  • Which Washington Administrative Code (WAC) rules the worker used to decide your case.

  • How to appeal.


  • The DSHS worker may not have known or understood all the important facts.

  • DSHS may have not used its rules correctly.

  • DSHS may not have taken the right steps in deciding your case and giving you notice.

  • DSHS may not have taken the right steps if you have a disability making it hard for you to understand or follow their rules. Read DSHS Help for People with Disabilities: Necessary Supplemental Accommodation (NSA) to learn more.

You can do any or all of these:

  • Ask for an administrative hearing.

  • Ask a DSHS supervisor to review and explain the decision.

  • Re-apply.

You have up to 90 days from the date of the denial notice to do this. Starting July 1, 2023, if circumstances beyond your control, such as medical issues, housing instability, language barriers, or domestic violence, keep you from meeting that deadline, you should still ask for a hearing as soon as you can.

There are different ways you can do this.
In writing: Write the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), P.O. Box 42488,
Olympia, WA 98504.

Verbally: You can call OAH at (360) 407-2700 or 1-800-583-8271 or tell DSHS that you want a hearing. DSHS may have you follow up with a written request.

If it is an emergency, you should call OAH to ask them to hold the hearing as soon as possible. This is called anexpedited hearing.

Otherwise, your hearing will probably be 20 days or more after you ask for it.

An Administrative Law Judge (an ALJ) who does not work for DSHS leads the hearing. The ALJ will send you a written decision after the hearing. Read Representing Yourself at an Administrative Hearing to learn more.

Before or after asking for a hearing, you can ask your DSHS worker to explain more about why DSHS denied you benefits. You might learn DSHS was missing or had wrong information. If this is the case, you can try to give them the right information.

If you need help getting that information, you can ask the worker. If you must pay to get the information, ask DSHS to pay, or if DSHS will accept other proof that you don't need to pay to get.

You can also ask the DSHS worker's supervisor for a meeting to review the decision to deny you benefits. If you write to the supervisor, the supervisor must write back within 10 days. If that does not change the decision, you can write to the head (the administrator) of the local DSHS office. The administrator must write you back in 10 days.

If you disagree with what the worker, supervisor, and administrator decide, the matter is final unless you also ask for or have asked for a hearing.

You think DSHS was right to deny you when they did. But your situation has since changed. You believe you are eligible to get benefits now.

  • You have more information that might change DSHS' decision. Your DSHS worker or supervisor will only look at your new info if you re-apply. You can re-apply while also trying to use the new information in your administrative hearing.

Yes. You can re-apply for benefits any time. You can re-apply even if you have asked for a hearing.

Get Legal Help

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

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Last Review and Update: Jan 09, 2024
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