What does EBT stand for? The answer is Electronic Benefits Transfer – and now we’ll explain what that means and why you need to know about it.
EBT Meaning | What is EBT?
EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is the name of the technology that is used to run the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and often the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF or cash benefits) program.
The government uses this technology to automatically transfer benefits every month. The funds are sent from government coffers to an EBT card, which functions very similar to a debit card. These cards have two parts: cash and food.
SNAP funds are placed on the “food” part of the card and can only be redeemed for eligible food items. These include things like produce, meat, shelf-stable canned goods, and even seeds and produce-bearing plants!
Cash benefits are sent to the “cash” side of the card and can be used for non-food items, although there are still some restrictions. You can use the cash benefits for standard living expenses, including shelter, fuel, food, transportation, clothing, personal hygiene and employment expenses. You cannot use them for tattoos, piercings, alcohol, or other restricted items.
Why is this important?
These cash and food benefits help low income families make ends meet. These programs are extremely valuable to low income and underserved communities. They even help business owners by pouring money into the local economy. These benefits are tremendously important to low income people in the United States.
What do you need to know about it?
These benefits, such as SNAP and TANF, are paid every month on an plastic card that functions like a debit card. These funds are usually provided on the same day every month. Households who receive these benefits typically rely on these benefits to feed their families, so any delays can cause major problems for their households.
Over 40 million Americans were receiving these benefits in 2018. In that year, these programs paid a total of $57.1 billion toward those benefits.
That sounds like a lot but most households actually receive very little. The amount paid from these programs are based on the federal poverty level and complex calculations using guidelines like the Thrifty Food Plan.
There is a major misconception that people who receive these benefits are lazy or unemployed. That’s not true. The majority of households who receive SNAP benefits include at least one employed individual according to a 2018 study by the American Community Survey.
EBT and Low Income Relief
At Low Income Relief, we help millions of people make the most of their benefits. We have helped countless people, especially seniors and disabled people, get more food stamps every month. We have maintain an ever-updated list of hundreds of freebies and deals – including Amazon discounts! We have many related articles that may be able to help you save money, get free stuff and make ends meet.
There are many ways that you can use the Low Income Relief information service. You can browse our website, watch our YouTube videos, or search by your state for more information. If you are looking for something specific, you can also chat with Lira to see if she can help you find the resources that you need.
Frequently Asked Questions about EBT (FAQs)
We get a lot of questions about this! Here are some of the questions we are asked most often.
How do I apply for EBT?
In order to apply for EBT, you will need to apply with your local state agency that administers either the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The applications are often combined, so it is easy to apply.
Can a felon get EBT?
It depends. In some states, people with certain drug-related felonies may not be able to get EBT. There are 18 states that have abandoned the drug offender ban and 26 additional states have eased their restrictions. Only six states fully enforce the ban (Wyoming, Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina).
How do I check my EBT balance?
Checking your balance is easy! There are four ways you can easily check your balance:
- You can call the number on the back of your card.
- You can log into the official state cardholder portal (like Connect EBT or EBT Edge)
- You can make a purchase and check the balance on the receipt.
- You can use a third-party EBT app like Providers to monitor your balance.
How much is EBT monthly?
On average, households receive about $240 per month in SNAP EBT benefits. It averages to about $121 per person per month. Households that are eligible for cash benefits receive an average of $309 per month in cash benefits on their cards.
What is my EBT card number?
The card number is usually only available by looking at the physical card. If you lose your card or you are unable to find the number, you will usually have to order a new card. You may want to write your card number down when you receive it, just so you don’t lose it.
Do all states offer EBT programs?
Yes. Sometimes people ask us specifically about Virginia EBT or Kentucky EBT or if another state has a program. All states in the United States offer these programs, including food stamps (SNAP) and cash benefits (TANF).
Can I request to restore expired benefits?
Yes! If your food stamps application has lapsed and your benefits have stopped, you can recertify or reapply. If your benefits have been lost due to inactivity, you will need to discuss that process with your caseworker.
Other Topics Related to EBT
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)