Washington DSHS and ESD relationship

There have been reports on Social Media that Washington State DSHS is denying food assistance to those who have applied for unemployment benefits from the Washington Employment Security Department. Here’s an official explanation from an authorized spokesperson for DSHS about the relation of food assistance with an application for unemployment benefits. The following is verbatim from the DSHS source on June 3, 2020.

We understand there is a lot of confusion regarding unemployment compensation claims and how they impact public assistance benefits. When people apply for food and cash benefits, DSHS reviews the household information for all countable income and compares it to information provided to us directly from the Employment Security Department. Our eligibility determinations for food assistance must align with WAC 388-450-0005(1) and CFR 273.10(c) regarding budgeting of income that can be expected or anticipated.

We have not received email or other instruction from ESD regarding guidance for processing/denying any pending unemployment claims. If a household shows a pending unemployment claim with ESD, DSHS does not budget this income. If people are hearing or experiencing something different from this, they should please call our Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233. DSHS is willing to review recently denied cases to determine whether the case was correctly decided.

Unemployment compensation is not countable income until approved with an anticipated weekly benefit amount and date of when benefits will be received. If an applicant is denied benefits due to unemployment income they are not receiving, they can call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 for a review.

We also understand that many recipients of unemployment benefits are experiencing delays while the Employment Security Department verifies identity due to recent unemployment fraud. If unemployment benefits are delayed for a time exceeding (or anticipated to exceed) 30 days, please call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 for a review.