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What Are My Rights? Dealing with DSHS

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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7900EN - This publication lists services available by DSHS and your rights when dealing with this state agency.

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What services can I apply for at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)? 

  • Food Stamps

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

  • Emergency Financial Help for Families

  • Child care

  • Child Support Enforcement Services

  • Financial assistance and health care coverage for Aged, Blind and Disabled persons (ABD program)Medical Coverage

  • In-Home Care, Personal Care, Nursing Home, and other Long-Term Care Services

  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment

  • Developmental Disability Services

  • Mental Health Services

  • Child Protective Services

  • Adult Protective Services

  • Foster Parent Services

What important rights do I have when dealing with DSHS?

  • The Right to apply and to get a written decision on your application.

  • The Right to promptly see and get copies of anything in your file.

  • The Right to talk to the supervisor of any DSHS employee.

  • The Right to ask for an administrative hearing whenever DSHS denies, reduces (lowers), or terminates (stops) benefits. In the case of a reduction or termination of benefits, you may also have a right to receive continued assistance pending the hearing if you ask for the hearing within ten days of the notice.

  • The Right not to be retaliated against for exercising these rights.

What if I cannot speak English?

You have a right to an interpreter. You also have the right to receive DSHS's notices and letters in your own language if you do not speak English, or have limited ability to speak English. DSHS must provide you with an interpreter without delay to help you at interviews and in filling out forms in English and answering DSHS' letters.

What if I need help in dealing with DSHS?

If you feel you need help in filling out forms or in understanding what DSHS wants you to do to qualify for benefits, tell your worker. You can get special help called "necessary supplemental accommodations" (NSA) in getting and keeping benefits if you have a physical or mental health problem, or for other reasons, such as diffi­culties with reading or communicating.

For more information about your public assistance rights or DSHS's pro­grams, call the number below to find out if Northwest Justice Project has materials on the subject you are interested in. Or visit www.washingtonlawhelp.org.



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 June 2014.
© 2014 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 use only.)

Last Review and Update: Jun 23, 2014