Public Benefits

There are a variety of public benefits available to survivors of abuse. Explore the options in this collection of resources.

Public benefits resources

  • Is It Safe To Say? – What are the confidentiality practices of the Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS)? Learn what survivors should know about how personal information will be handled at a welfare office.
  • How to apply online – Washington Connection lets you apply online for food and cash benefits. The information goes to the same place as if you apply over the phone or in the welfare office and DSHS confidentiality policies apply. Tip: If you would like to apply for medical and cash benefits, go to the Washington Health Plan Finder FIRST. After you apply for medical benefits there, it will prompt you to apply for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) if you are eligible and will pre-populate the forms with the information you already entered.
  • WorkFirst Handbook – The policies and practices that guide staff at your local welfare offices. Section 6.5 is all about family violence.
  • Washington Law Help: TANF – Many TANF and WorkFirst policies are explained here, including eligibility, sanction, the 5-year time limit, and more.

Administrative hearing requests

You can request an administrative hearing when you disagree with DSHS’s decision or findings related to your case. You should receive written notice of your administrative hearing rights at the time of application, denial, termination, suspension, grant reduction, or notification of overpayment.

The request:

  • must be made within in 90 days of the date of the decision;
  • does not need to be in any particular form and can be made verbally or in writing;
  • can be made to any responsible department employee; and
  • should include the decision being appealed and why you are dissatisfied with the decision.

Continued benefits: If you ask for a fair hearing within the ten-day notice period, you may keep getting the amount of benefits you were getting before the change.

Requests can be mailed to:
Office of Administrative Hearings
PO Box 42489
Olympia, WA 98504-2489

5-Year Time Limit and Administrative Hearings – These information cards can be printed and distributed to share facts about the 5-year time limit and administrative hearings.

Disabilities resources

  • Aged, Blind, or Disabled Cash Assistance Program (ABD) – This is a state cash assistance program for those who are aged 65 or older, blind, or have a long-term medical condition that is likely to meet federal disability criteria. Applications are available in many languages, or apply online here.
  • SSI, SSDI, and other Social Security Benefits – Washington Law Help’s webpage about Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSDI) and other Social Security Benefits includes information about the programs, who is eligible, and ways to advocate for yourself when you disagree with a decision about your SSI case or application.
  • Social Security Disability Benefits Guide – This guide explains how Social Security Disability benefits work, what to expect at each step of the process, and how to calculate your benefits.

Immigrants and refugees

Before applying for public benefits, it’s important for immigrants or those advocating on their behalf to understand not only what is available, but to be able to evaluate the risks and benefits of applying. The following resources may help you understand the complexities of applying for public assistance as an immigrant survivor of domestic violence.

Child support

  • Your rights regarding child support – This is a list of frequently asked questions that informs you of your rights, how the system works, and what you should consider before making the decision to participate in this system.
  • Child Support and Domestic Violence – An online learning course that covers basic information for advocates helping survivors navigate the child support system.

Food

Resources to connect you with food programs and tips to help stretch your food budget.

Food resources

  • Washington Basic Food Program (Food Stamps) – Find out more about the program and if you are eligible. This external website also has information about other ways to get food if you are not eligible for Food Stamps.
  • Eat right when money’s tight – Resources from the USDA about how to make healthy food choices and save money.

Stretch your food stamp dollars

When you’re strapped for cash, Food Stamps can be a lifesaver when it comes to putting food on the table. Unfortunately, other essential household items, like cleaning and personal hygiene products, cannot be purchased with Food Stamps. However, there are a few things that can be purchased with Food Stamps that can also be used as cleaning products. The following are suggestions on how to stretch your Food Stamp dollars to cover some cleaning and personal hygiene products. This is by no means a complete list, so feel free to get creative!

White Distilled Vinegar & Baking Soda – These have multiple uses around the house. Vinegar disinfects and baking soda scrubs. Be sure to get white distilled vinegar, and not another type of vinegar. Most other vinegars have a lot of sugars in them and will make what you are cleaning sticky.

  • Laundry Detergent: Mix one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda.
  • Multipurpose Cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda on the surface you want to clean and use a spray bottle to spray the vinegar onto the baking soda, then scrub and wipe clean.
  • Dish Soap: Mix vinegar and a little baking soda with lemon juice, scrub and rinse.

Cornstarch: Not just for gravy anymore!

  • Stain Remover: Sprinkle a little cornstarch over a stain on clothing or upholstery (especially good for greasy stains) and leave for several hours or overnight. Brush the cornstarch off with a cloth and the stain comes off too.
  • Baby Powder: Use cornstarch in place of baby powder. It’s absorbent and gentle.
  • Finger Paint: OK, it’s not for cleaning (it may even create a mess) but it’s a fun, inexpensive activity for kids. Mix ¼ cup of cornstarch with 2 cups of cold water and boil until thick. Pour thickened mixture into separate containers and stir in food coloring. Let cool COMPLETELY before setting the kids up to paint.

Unemployment insurance

You might be eligible for unemployment benefits if you left work due to domestic violence. Learn about your rights, safety, and how and where you can go for help if you feel you qualify for unemployment benefits due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.