Sometimes navigating the world of EBT, food stamps, TANF, and other public benefits programs can be confusing. One question that folks often ask is, “how do I know if my EBT card has cash benefits?”
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Because SNAP and cash benefits are typically loaded onto the same card, you might not be certain whether you have both, or what the balance is on your cash benefits. Here are a few ways you can find out whether your EBT card has cash benefits.
First, I should clarify something. One thing I’ve found confusing is that the terms “cash benefits” and “TANF” (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are often used interchangeably. I’ve found that they’re just referring to the same thing. The federal program that administers cash benefits is called TANF. In this article, we use both “cash benefits” and “TANF” to talk about the funds that are placed on your EBT card in addition to your SNAP/food stamp balance.
Find out by phone or online
While your EBT card will look a bit different depending on which state you live in, your card should display a phone number where you can contact your state’s EBT office, and a web address you can visit to check your balance online.
Below you’ll find links to each state’s EBT card instructions and/or benefit portal. Click on your state to find out:
- How to get in touch with your state’s EBT office.
- How to log onto your account and check your balance.
- How to use your EBT card to access cash benefits.
EBT card instructions by state
- District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
- Kentucky (KY does not appear to list instructions on how to use EBT cash benefits online. Contact your local office for assistance.)
- Massachusetts (MA also has some tips on how to save more when using your EBT card)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
If you’re certain that you’ve applied to receive TANF cash benefits, but you don’t know whether the funds have hit your account, you can still try contacting your state’s EBT office (see above). However, there are circumstances where you might want to contact your TANF office instead. If you think you should have already received your cash balance, but are unable to access it, it’s best to call your state or tribal territory’s TANF office. A complete listing of each state and territory’s TANF offices is available here.
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When you contact your TANF office, it might help to ask the following questions:
- When will my cash benefits hit my account?
- Do I still meet all the eligibility requirements for TANF? (for example, you may have already received benefits for the maximum amount of time allowed)
- Why is my cash benefit delayed?
- Do you need any additional information from me in order to to transmit my cash benefits?
Try using your EBT card at an ATM
If you’re not sure whether your EBT card has cash benefits or not, a quick way to find out is to try withdrawing cash at an ATM using your EBT card. It is best to use an ATM located at a bank, supermarket, shopping mall, or other establishment where EBT is accepted.
Why? Some businesses are prohibited from accepting SNAP and TANF cash benefits. These businesses typically include: casinos and gaming establishments, race tracks, liquor stores, smoke shops, adult entertainment shops, and amusement parks. ATMs located at these types of establishments will not be able to display your EBT balances.
More information on cash benefits
Still have questions? Check out these resources on TANF cash benefits and EBT from Low Income Relief.
- This comprehensive guide to TANF includes detailed information about TANF eligibility requirements and how to apply for TANF (cash benefits).
- This article details exactly how to use your TANF cash benefits.
- And finally, Did you know your EBT card can do this?