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Disaster Cash Assistance: Everything You Need to Know

Disaster Cash Assistance: Everything You Need to Know

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has created a difficult financial situation for many Americans; to help people weather the storm, the state of Washington has implemented the Disaster Cash Assistance Program or DCAP. However, DCAP does not just supply “free cash” for every citizen. There are various criteria that you must meet to qualify, as well as limits on how much cash each person or family can receive.

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In this guide, we will take a closer look at Washington State’s Disaster Cash Assistance Program. More specifically, we will evaluate the purpose of the program, who it serves, and how much assistance it provides.

disaster cash assistance program

What is the Disaster Cash Assistance Program?

DCAP is am emergency program initiated by the Department of Social and Health Services in Washington State. The program officially went into effect on April 17th, 2020, in response to the growing need for economic stimulus in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks. According to DSHS, the program is intended to help Washingtonians meet their basic needs during a crisis (usually a natural disaster). 

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The change was made possible after Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington. DCAP already existed for individuals and families in Washington who qualified for Disaster Cash Assistance, but the state of emergency allowed the DSHS to expand the existing program to include more people. The Disaster Cash Assistance Program will ultimately bring emergency funds to thousands of citizens in Washington state.

DCAP Requirements

To apply for DCAP, you will first need to make sure that you qualify. Here are the basic requirements to qualify for DCAP benefits:

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  • You must be a Washington state resident
  • You need to be living in Washington state at the time that the state of emergency is declared (February 29th, 2020)
  • You must have suffered a loss of property or income, which can include the inability to go to work
  • You must have applied for any other assistance available and applicable to you, including:

It’s important to note that you do not need to be a legal U.S. citizen to apply for DCAP. You also don’t need to have a Social Security number, though you will be required to provide your SSN if you have one. Finally, you do not need to have children or dependents to qualify for the Disaster Cash Assistance Program. 

washington state DCAP

How to apply for Disaster Cash Assistance Program Benefits

If you meet all of the requirements outlined above, you can begin the application process. Whether you choose to apply online or by phone, you will be required to conduct a phone interview. To apply for emergency cash assistance online, you must visit WashingtonConnection.org. If you’re unsure if you qualify, you can click on “See If I Qualify.” Otherwise, simply click on “Apply Now.”

After finishing the online portion of the application, you will need to call the Disaster Cash Assistance Program phone number at 877-501-2233. If you prefer to complete the entire application by phone, you may do so by calling the same number. The phone interview is used to clarify any discrepancies and finalize the application process.

As part of the application, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number (if applicable)
  • Citizenship or alien status
  • Income
  • Assets and resources
  • Housing costs
  • Childcare costs
  • Utilities
  • Any relevant household circumstances

How much cash does DCAP provide?

The amount of cash you receive will depend on your income, assets, housing and childcare costs, as well as several other factors. You can calculate your approximate benefits using the CEAP rules. Once you finish the application process, the DSHS will issue the payment to your Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) card. If you don’t have an EBT card, the DSHS will send one in the mail. 

How much time do I have to apply?

The Disaster Cash Assistance Program will only be extended to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for as long as the state of emergency lasts. As soon as the state of emergency ends, the DSHS benefits will be reserved for those who are the victims of natural disasters. As a result, it is unclear exactly how long the current Disaster Cash Assistance Program will continue. This means that if you do qualify, you should apply for your benefits as soon as possible.

It’s also important to note that DCAP does not provide recurring payments. You can only receive Disaster Assistance Cash for one month in a 12-month period. If you need further assistance beyond what DCAP can provide, you will need to apply for one of the assistance programs listed above.

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disaster cash assistance map

Can non-Washington State residents qualify for DCAP?

Unfortunately, non-Washington State residents cannot qualify for Disaster Cash Assistance. It is only meant for in-state residents. However, most states have some form of relief for households suffering from reduced income. For example, every state participates in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, though benefits vary by state. Additionally, some states have their own assistance programs, like New York’s Temporary Cash Assistance

Finally, if you lost your job as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) in any state. You can learn more about the UI requirements in your state with the Unemployment Benefits Finder. In most states, you can apply in-person, by phone, or online.

Can I use DCAP with other DSHS benefits?

In short, no, you cannot receive DCAP benefits if you are currently receiving benefits through another DSHS program. DCAP is designed to be a one-time payment to help individuals or families pay for their essential needs during a crisis. It is not meant as a supplementary income if you can pay your bills via other means or programs. 

Conclusion

Washington State has been proactive in the fight against Coronavirus by declaring a state of emergency and expanding DCAP. The Disaster Cash Assistance Program will be in effect until the state of emergency ends, providing temporary assistance to individuals and families in need. So, if you qualify for DCAP, the time to apply is now!

If your hours have been reduced as a result of COVID-19, feel free to check out our article on getting partial unemployment benefits!

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Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy. You can check out his blog at Philosophy in Film.