12. Financial rights

(a) Right to receive pay for employment

All patients have the right to receive payment for work that is outside of the regular chores that all patients have to do to keep their areas clean. This payment should follow federal and state laws.

(b) Right to personal funds

A patient can keep a reasonable amount of money with him or her for personal use. The amount is meant to be enough for canteen expenses and small purchases. If the patient does not have a guardian, money that the patient has when he or she is admitted to the hospital may be held by the hospital superintendent and given to the patient over time for personal needs. The hospital will return any remaining money when the patient is discharged.

(c) Right to receive notice regarding financial obligation for care and treatment

A patient may be asked to pay for the time he or she spends at the state hospital.  However, patients have the right to notice that he or she will be asked to pay the hospital for his or her care. Such notice is called a “Notice for Financial Responsibility.” If the patient disagrees with the amount of money that he or she has been determined to be able to pay, the patient can appeal the notice by writing to:

Secretary, DSHS
Attn: Determination Officer
P.O. Box 9768 MS HJ-21
Olympia, WA 98504 

It is important that a patient appeal a notice right away because the state will begin collection efforts quickly and a patient may lose the right to appeal if he or she waits too long. 

(d) Right to control money

The Commissioner of Social Security may make the hospital a patient’s representative payee if the Commissioner determines it would be best for the patient. That means that the hospital will manage any Social Security or SSI payments that a patient receives while they are in the hospital. However, a patient must receive notice, usually a letter, before Social Security appoints the hospital as his or her payee. If the patient disagrees with this decision, it is important that the patient appeal immediately as he or she may lose the right to do so. 
Once the hospital becomes a patient’s representative payee, the hospital is required to use the patient’s funds only for the benefit of the patient. This includes paying for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and personal comfort items while in the hospital. If there is money left over after providing for these needs, the hospital may pay patient debts, including outstanding hospital fees. Once the hospital releases a patient, the hospital can no longer be the representative payee. 

Go to the next page: 13. Access to medical records.

Go to Section II: What a patient can do when rights are taken away.

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