SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)
Effective Date of Rule: Immediately.
Other Findings Required by Other Provisions of Law as Precondition to Adoption or Effectiveness of Rule: ESSB 5921, section 14, directs the department to incorporate new prohibitions on the use of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards by public assistance recipients, and also directs the department to assign a protective payee if a public assistance recipient violates EBT restrictions two or more times.
Purpose: The department is creating new WAC 388-412-0046 What is the purpose of DSHS cash and food assistance benefits and how can I use my benefits? and amending WAC 388-460-0035 When is a protective payee assigned for mismanagement of funds?
These changes are necessary to update existing regulations to conform with increased EBT use restrictions and protective payee assignments required by ESSB 5921 that go into effect July 1, 2011. Only the recipient, an eligible member of the household, or the recipient's authorized representative can use the card and use is limited to benefit program purposes.
Citation of Existing Rules Affected by this Order: Amending WAC 388-460-0035.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.500, 74.08.090, 74.08A.010, 74.08A.340.
Other Authority: ESSB 5921, section 14.
Under RCW 34.05.350 the agency for good cause finds that state or federal law or federal rule or a federal deadline for state receipt of federal funds requires immediate adoption of a rule.
Reasons for this Finding: ESSB 5921, section 14, as signed by the governor on June 15, 2011, goes into effect July 1, 2011.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 1, Amended 1, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.
Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 1, Amended 1, Repealed 0.
Date Adopted: July 1, 2011.
Katherine I. Vasquez
(a) DSHS cash assistance benefits are provided to low-income residents who qualify for public assistance programs. These benefits are intended to help pay for basic living expenses as described under RCW 74.04.770. TANF cash grants must be used for the sole benefit of the children, and we may require proof that you are using your TANF cash assistance to benefit your children as allowed under RCW 74.12.260.
(b) Your electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card or cash assistance benefits may only be used by you, an eligible member of your household, or an authorized representative/protective payee for the purposes of your cash assistance program. You are not allowed to sell, attempt to sell, exchange, or donate your EBT card or benefits to any other person or entity.
(c) You may use your cash benefits to pay a reasonable amount of basic living expenses such as:
(ii) Utilities such as heating, telephone, water, sewer, garbage, and recycling;
(vi) Household maintenance;
(vii) Personal hygiene;
(viii) Employment or school related items; and
(ix) Other necessary incidentals and items.
(d) It is not legal to use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards or cash obtained with EBT cards to:
(i) Gamble. Gambling includes:
(A) The purchase of lottery tickets;
(B) The purchase of pull tabs;
(C) Use of punch boards;
(D) Purchase of bingo cards;
(E) Betting on horse racing;
(F) Participating in casino games; and
(G) Participating in other games of chance as found in chapters 9.46, 67.16 and 67.70 RCW.
(ii) Participate in or purchase any activities located in a tattoo, body piercing, or body art shop licensed under chapter 18.300 RCW;
(iii) Purchase cigarettes as defined in RCW 82.24.010 or tobacco products as defined in RCW 82.26.010;
(iv) Purchase any alcoholic items regulated under Title 66 RCW;
(v) Purchase or participate in any activities in any of the following locations:
(A) Taverns licensed under RCW 66.24.330;
(B) Beer/wine specialty stores licensed under RCW 66.24.371;
(C) Nightclubs licensed under RCW 66.24.600;
(D) Contract liquor stores defined under RCW 66.04.010;
(E) Bail bond agencies regulated under chapter 18.185 RCW;
(F) Gambling establishments licensed under chapter 9.46 RCW;
(G) Adult entertainment venues with performances that contain erotic material where minors under the age of eighteen are prohibited under RCW 9.68A.150;
(H) Any establishments where persons under the age of eighteen are not permitted.
(e) If you use your electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card or cash obtained from your EBT card illegally we may:
(i) Assign a protective payee to manage your cash assistance benefits under WAC 388-460-0035;
(ii) For households receiving TANF, require proof that your benefits are being used for the benefit of the children in the household;
(iii) Terminate your cash benefits; or
(iv) Pursue legal action, including criminal prosecution.
(2) What is the purpose of DSHS food assistance benefits?
(a) DSHS food assistance benefits including those from the Basic Food program, state funded basic food program for legal immigrants (FAP), Washington state combined application project (WASHCAP), and transitional food assistance (TFA) help low-income individuals and families have a more nutritious diet by providing food assistance benefits through EBT cards for eligible households to buy groceries.
(b) You, members of your household, or an authorized representative may use your food assistance benefits to buy food items for your household from food retailer authorized to accept supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
(c) You can use your food assistance benefits to buy items such as:
(i) Breads and cereals;
(ii) Fruits and vegetables;
(iii) Cheese, milk, and other dairy products;
(iv) Meats, fish, poultry, and eggs;
(v) Most other food items that are not prepared hot foods; and
(vi) Seeds and plants that produce food.
(d) It is not legal to:
(i) Give your EBT card or benefits to anyone who is not in your food assistance household or your authorized representative.
(ii) Use food benefits on your EBT card for any purpose other than to buy food for eligible household members.
(iii) Exchange your food benefits for anything of value (trafficking). Examples of illegal trafficking include exchanging food benefits for cash, drugs, weapons or anything other than food from an authorized retailer.
(iv) Sell, attempt to sell, exchange, or donate your EBT card or any benefits to any person or entity.
(v) Sell or trade any food that was purchased using your food assistance benefits for cash, drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, firearms, or anything of value.
(vi) Use food benefits to buy nonfood items such as cigarettes, tobacco, beer, wine, liquor, household supplies, soaps, paper products, vitamins, medicine, or pet food.
(e) If you intentionally misuse your food assistance benefits, you may be:
(i) Disqualified for an intentional program violation under WAC 388-446-0015 and 388-446-0020. If you are disqualified you will lose your benefits for at least one year and up to a lifetime. The disqualification continues even if you move to another state.
(ii) Subject to fines.
(iii) Subject to legal action, including criminal prosecution. DSHS will cooperate with state, local and federal prosecuting authorities to prosecute trafficking in food assistance/SNAP benefits.
(a) Department employees or others observe that the client or client's children are hungry, ill, or not adequately clothed;
(b) Repeated requests from the client for extra money for basic essentials such as food, utilities, clothing, and housing;
(c) A series of evictions or utility shut off notices within the last twelve months;
(d) Medical or psychological evaluations showing an inability to handle money;
(e) Persons having had ((
an ADATSA)) a chemical
dependency assessment and who are participating in
(( ADATSA-funded)) chemical dependency treatment;
(f) Not paying an in home child care provider for services when payment has been issued to the client by the department for that purpose;
(g) A complaint from businesses showing a pattern of failure to pay bills or rent;
Using public assistance electronic benefits
transfer (EBT) card or cash obtained through EBT to purchase
or pay for lottery tickets, pari-mutuel wagering, or any of
the activities authorized under chapter 9.46 RCW)) Notice from
the office of fraud and accountability that a client illegally
used a public assistance electronic benefits transfer (EBT)
card or cash obtained with an EBT card two or more times.
Illegal use includes infractions, felonies, or violations
referenced in WAC 388-412-0046 or WAC 388-446-0020.
(2) A lack of money or a temporary shortage of money because of an emergency does not constitute mismanagement.
(3) When a client has a history of mismanaging money, benefits can be paid through a protective payee or directly to a vendor.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-14-083, § 388-460-0035, filed 6/28/02, effective 7/1/02.]