Legal information

You Have the Right to Appeal

You, or the person helping you, may request an appeal hearing if you do not agree with any action taken on your case.  For Food Assistance, you can appeal in person or by telephone.  For all other programs, you must appeal in writing.  To appeal in writing do one of the following:

·         Fill out an appeal electronically at, or

·         Write a letter telling us why you think a decision is wrong, or

·         Fill out an Appeal and Request for Hearing form.  You can get this form at your county DHS office.

Send or take your appeal to the Department of Human Services, Appeals Section, 5th Floor, 1305 E Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA  50319-0114.  If you need help filing an appeal, ask your county DHS office.

You can represent yourself.  Or, you can have a friend, relative, lawyer, or someone else act on your behalf.

You may contact your county DHS office about legal services.  You may have to pay for these legal services.  If you do, your payment will be based on your income.  You may also call Iowa Legal Aid at (800) 532-1275.  If you live in Polk County, call (515) 243-1193.

You Will Not Be Discriminated Against

It is the policy of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide equal treatment in employment and provision of services to applicants, employees and clients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, political belief or veteran status.

If you feel DHS has discriminated against or harassed you, please send a letter detailing your complaint to:  Iowa Department of Human Services, Hoover Building, 5th Floor – Policy Bureau, 1305 E Walnut, Des Moines, IA  50319-0114 or via email

Food Assistance

This institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and in some cases, religion or political beliefs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027), found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form.  To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992.  Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

Mail:       U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20250-9410; or

Fax:        (202) 690-7442; or


For any other information dealing with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (Food Assistance in Iowa) issues, persons should either contact the USDA SNAP Hotline Number at (800) 221-5689, which is also in Spanish, or call the State Information/Hotline Numbers found online at:

To file a complaint of discrimination regarding a program receiving Federal financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), write:  HHS Director, Office for Civil Rights, Room 515-F, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201 or call (202) 619-0403 (voice) or (800) 537-7697 (TTY).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

All Programs

We Check What You Tell Us

The information you give us may be checked by federal, state, and local officials to make sure it is true.  Things we might check are any listed person’s:  social security number, job and pay, bank account amount, alien status, and amounts received from other sources like Social Security or unemployment.  If any information you give us is not correct, we may deny your application.

We may check records from other states to see if any person in your household can get benefits in Iowa.  This may be because a person was disqualified from a program in another state.

We check and use computer systems like the state Income and Eligibility Verification System.  If something you told us is different from what the computer system tells us, we will check to find out what is correct.  We might check your information by contacting your employer, your bank, or other people.  To do this kind of checking with your employer, bank, or other people, we will ask you first.  Such information may affect your household’s eligibility and level of benefits.

Things You Need to Know

DHS may give your answers to law enforcement officials to catch persons fleeing to avoid the law.

The Quality Control unit or Investigations unit may review your case.  They may contact other people or organizations to get proof of your information.  By signing this application, you give permission to release confidential information to the Quality Control unit or Investigations unit.  You must cooperate with them to keep your benefits.

You will have to pay back any benefits you got or that was paid to a third party on your behalf for which you were not eligible.

Section 1128B of the Social Security Act provides federal penalties for fraudulent acts and false reporting in connection with these programs.

Anyone who gets, tries to get, or helps any other person get assistance to which they are not entitled, is guilty of violating the laws of the state of Iowa.  This includes, but is not limited to, Iowa Code Chapters 239B, 243, 249, and 249A.

Your expenses may be used to figure the amount of assistance you get.  You may have expenses included in your benefit calculation by reporting and giving proof of your expenses.  If you do not report or give proof of your expenses, you choose not to claim the expense.  You can report and give proof later, and the expense can be used for future months.

Comm. 233 will be given to you at your interview.  It will tell you about any additional rights and responsibilities not covered with this application.

Food Assistance

Rules of the Food Assistance Program

Follow these rules:

·         Don’t hide or give wrong information on purpose to get Food Assistance benefits.

·         Don’t use Food Assistance benefits to buy non-food items like alcohol or tobacco.

·         Don’t trade, sell, or give away Food Assistance benefits.

·         Don’t use someone else’s Food Assistance benefits for yourself.

·         Don’t purchase a product with Food Assistance benefits, with a returnable container that has a return deposit, with the intent of getting cash back when the empty container is returned to the store.

·         Don’t buy food on credit and attempt to pay for it with Food Assistance.

·         Don’t buy a product with Food Assistance benefits so you can get cash or something other than eligible food by reselling that product.

·         Don’t fail to report if your household goes over its income limit.

If you get Food Assistance, your worker will tell you what your household’s income limit is.  If your household’s income goes over your limit in any month you must tell us by the 10th day of the next month.  If you don’t tell us on time, you might have to pay back the benefits.

Penalties of the Food Assistance Program

Anyone who breaks the above rules:

·         May not get Food Assistance benefits for 1 year for the first time, 2 years for the second time, and forever for the third time;

·         May be fined up to $250,000 or jailed up to 20 years or both; and

·         May be kept off Food Assistance for an additional 18 months, if court ordered.

If a court finds you guilty of buying, selling, or trading more than $500 in Food Assistance benefits, you will lose benefits forever.

If a court finds you guilty of trading Food Assistance benefits for firearms, ammunition, or explosives, you will lose benefits forever.

If a court finds you guilty of trading Food Assistance benefits for controlled substances, you will lose benefits for two years the first time and forever the second time.

You will not get Food Assistance for 10 years if you are found guilty of getting or trying to get Food Assistance in more than one household at a time.  This penalty happens if you give wrong information about who you are or where you live.

Giving wrong information on purpose may result in us taking legal action against you, either criminal or civil.  It might also mean we reduce your benefits or take money back from you.

Things You Need to Know

Households eligible for Food Assistance may get a notice that they are eligible for the “Promoting Awareness of the Benefits of a Healthy Marriage” program and a pamphlet listing those benefits.  By giving this information, DHS can use different rules that may help you get Food Assistance.

If you have a Food Assistance overpayment, DHS will give your answers to federal and state agencies as well as private claims collection agencies, to collect the overpayment.

The Food Assistance office may contact other people or organizations to get proof of your information.

By having signed this application, you agree that all members of your household will register for work and follow all of the work and training rules.

The application filing date is different if your household is in an institution and applying for Food Assistance and Supplemental Security Income at the same time.  In this case, the filing date is the date of release from the institution.

You may not be denied Food Assistance benefits just because you were denied benefits from other programs.  Food Assistance applications will not be delayed due to requirements of other programs you may apply for.

The collection of information on the application, including the social security number of each household member, is authorized under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (formerly the Food Stamp Act of 1977), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2011-2036.  The information will be used to determine whether your household is eligible or continues to be eligible to participate in the Food Assistance program.  We will verify this information through computer matching programs.  This information will also be used to monitor compliance with program regulations and for program management.

Family Investment Program (FIP) or Refugee Cash Assistance

Things You Need to Know

Within 10 days of the date the change happens, you must tell DHS about changes, such as:

·         Income, when it starts or stops, including getting an inheritance or a one-time payment of past due child support

·         Resources or assets

·         Someone moving in or out of your home

·         Mailing or living address

·         Receipt of a SSN

·         Change of school attendance of a child

If your application for FIP or Refugee Cash Assistance is approved, your Food Assistance may go down or stop.

If you are approved for FIP, you will be registered with the PROMISE JOBS program.  You agree that all members of your household who must cooperate with PROMISE JOBS will do so.  Talk with your worker if you feel you have a reason not to cooperate. 

If you choose not to take part in PROMISE JOBS, your FIP benefits will be limited.

While you get FIP, you give up your rights to child support for the months you are on FIP.  The state of Iowa will keep your child support to pay back the money you get from FIP.

Using Your FIP/RCA Electronic Access Card (EAC) or Your Debit Card to Access FIP/RCA Funds from Your Personal Bank Account

You cannot access your cash benefits with your EAC or personal debit card at a:

·         Liquor store or any place that mainly sells liquor,

·         Casino or other gambling or gaming establishment, or

·         Business which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state (such as a strip club).

This includes these types of businesses located in Iowa, on tribal land, or in any other state.

If DHS determines that you have accessed your cash benefits with your EAC or personal debit card at one of the above places you:

·         Will have committed fraud,

·         Have to repay the amount of cash accessed at the location, as well as any access fees, and

·         Your family will not get cash benefits for three months with the first misuse and six months for each additional misuse.

By having signed this application, you agree that no member of your household will use the EAC or your personal debit card to access FIP/RCA funds at prohibited locations.

Penalty for Getting FIP in More Than One State

You will not get FIP for 10 years if you are found guilty of getting or trying to get FIP in more than one state at a time.  This penalty happens if you give wrong information about where you live.

Child Care Assistance (CCA)

Things You Need to Know

Within 10 days of the date the change happens, you must tell DHS about changes, such as:

·         Income, including a change in your hourly rate and when income starts or stops

·         Work hours

·         Mailing or living address

·         Class schedule

·         Someone moving in or out of the house

·         Change in child care provider



    Click here to find the phone number of your county DHS office