State Public Benefit Program Changes due to COVID-19 – Updated 7/20/2020


Department of Social and Health Services has issued additional guidance around accessing food and cash assistance. Click here to read a summary of changes from Solid Ground and see below for more information.

At our April 16 General Membership Meeting, we heard a presentation from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Solid Ground on temporary changes being made to increase access to food and cash assistance through the state. A copy of that presentation can be found here, along with a one page summary of changes here.

Thank you to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Solid Ground for providing information on these changes. This information is current as of Tuesday April 21. Guidance may be further modified as the situation develops, so please check back here regularly as we will be updating this information.

Please note: Due to state budget cuts, DSHS will on on furlough every Monday through July and one Monday per month from August to November. Clients needing in-person or over the phone assistance are encouraged to reach out between 8am to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

  • Program General Information: TANF is a monthly cash assistance program for families with children that can be accessed for a maximum of 60 months and requires that participants show proof that they have been looking for work or enrolled in school.
  • COVID Changes:
    • The work and school requirement has been suspended, and families that have reached their 60-month time limit can apply for an extension.
    • Any family that has a certification period for benefits ending in April or May will automatically have their benefits extended an additional six months, and mid-certification review requirements have been waived for the months of April and May as well. This change also applies to those receiving Age, Blind and Disabled (ABD) or Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) benefits.
    • The state still requires that TANF recipients follow the terms of their Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP), including attending any required legal or medical appointments. The terms of an IRP can be changed if a client can show sufficient proof of burden. If a client is concerned about meeting the terms of their IRP, they should request a modification by calling 1-877-501-2233 or by contacting their local Community Service Offices.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Program General Information: SNAP provides a monthly award for food assistance. Individuals qualify by being low income and either caring for a minor child or having a recognized disability. Those who are low income without a recognized disability or caring for a minor child must show proof that they have been searching for work, school or volunteer opportunities as part of the ABAWD requirement (Able Bodied Adults Without Dependent Children)
  • COVID Changes:
    • The ABAWD requirement has been temporarily waived. Those who were previously denied benefits due to this are encouraged to re-apply.
    • Households enrolled in SNAP should also expect to see additional funds for the months of April and May as part of the federal stimulus package. Inform concerned clients that these additional funds are not an overpayment. 

 Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

  • Program General Information: LIHEAP is a program that provides a once per year grant to qualifying households to offset home heating costs. LIHEAP funding is flexible to accommodate almost any heating fuel source used by a home, and can be applied to rental costs in some circumstances.
  • COVID Changes:
    • Households who have previously qualified for LIHEAP may be awarded an additional $500 grant if they can prove they have been adversely affected by COVID-19. See this handout for more information.

 Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP)

Proof of income is required to qualify for these programs.

  • People can submit proof of income through an attached PDF when applying online at the Washington Connection portal. Although service hours have been reduced, Community Service Offices still have some limited in-person services available. If the easiest way to submit income verification is in-person, you can drop materials off at CSO drop box location.
  • For more information or to begin an application by phone, please call 1-877-980-9220. First time applicants will be required to call in to verify information.