Are you wondering how to get EBT cash benefits?
Electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, is a system through which state welfare organizations can send you cash benefits on a credit or debit card. Every state has a different program for how to get EBT cash benefits, however, it’s a common, convenient option for recipients to use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Cash Assistance payments via the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
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This article will discuss what EBT cash benefits are, how to get EBT cash benefits, how to apply for them, what the benefits can be used to buy, and some other relevant information.
What are EBT cash benefits?
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that helps efficiently distribute benefit payments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, helps low-income families and individuals pay for food, while TANF helps pay for food, housing, energy costs, child care, and job training.
After being accepted for either program, EBT cash benefits are applied to a participant’s payment card, which resembles a credit or debit card. Once funds are added to a recipient’s balance, that person can use the card at various approved stores to buy food, or other approved products and services.
SNAP EBT cash benefits are available in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that EBT cash benefits have been the sole method of SNAP issuance in all 50 states since 2004.
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Basics on SNAP
Formerly known as Food Stamps, SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SNAP’s mission is to provide nutritional food and food products to low-income families to help them move toward self-sufficiency. Cash benefits for families vary based on a recipients’ income and financial situation. The benefit payment also can vary from month to month.
Visit SNAP’s Application and Local Office Locators page to learn how to apply for benefits in your state. Simply click on the link, and click on your state to apply for benefits or to read more information about SNAP. Each state has its own unique application form.
To be eligible to receive SNAP benefits, you or your family must pass three criteria tests: gross monthly income, net income, and assets.
Gross monthly income — household income before any of the program’s deductions are applied — must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. Applicants’ net income, or household income after deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line. Lastly, an applicant’s assets must fall below certain limits. Households without a member who is elderly or has a disability must have assets of $2,250 or less, and households with such a member must have assets of $3,500 or less.
You can also call the SNAP hotline at 1-800-221-5689 to get more information on your state’s SNAP benefits.
Basics on TANF program
TANF, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, is a federally funded, state-run benefits program that helps families achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties.
The program goes by different names in different states and states’ benefits can vary. In general, TANF may help recipients pay for such things as food, housing, home energy, child care, and job training.
To learn more about TANF and its benefits, check out this page from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)
To help families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government created the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which created the Pandemic EBT.
This program provides benefit funds to help children that would have received free or reduced-price school meals had the pandemic not closed their schools or caused reductions in school hours and attendance. Families that receive P-EBT can use their benefits at SNAP-authorized retailers. To learn more about the program, check out this information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What can EBT cash benefits used for
The things you can buy with your EBT cash benefits vary by the program in which you’re enrolled, as well as the state in which you access these payments.
If you receive benefits via SNAP, you can buy various food products with your EBT card. SNAP-approved items include fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, bread, cereals, snack foods, and non-alcoholic beverages and seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you receive benefits via TANF, you can use your EBT cash benefits to buy various items or services. Recipients with a TANF EBT card may be able to use the benefit payments for such things as food, housing costs, home energy, child care, and job training.
Both programs have restrictions on what you can buy. In both programs, you cannot buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, tobacco, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals, hot foods, pet food, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics.
How to get EBT cash benefits
To receive EBT cash benefits, you must first apply for the benefits program you’d like to access.
If you’d like to apply to receive SNAP benefits, click on this nationwide directory to find your state’s application.
If you’d like to apply to receive TANF benefits, click here.
If you’d like to apply to receive P-EBT cash benefits, click here.
If you lose your EBT benefits card
If your EBT benefits card was damaged, lost, or stolen, look at this guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The guide offers a state-by-state list of phone numbers to call and websites to seek out if your card is damaged, lost, or stolen.
Although it can be time-consuming to apply for EBT cash benefits via the SNAP or TANF programs, these are important benefits to help you or your family purchase healthy food, realize financial stability, and move towards self-sufficiency.
It’s important to remember that there are many people and organizations around the United States that can help you access EBT cash benefits. If you need help, check out this map from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which can help you find your area’s local SNAP office, or check out this tool to find your local TANF office.
We hope through this article you learned what EBT cash benefits are, how to get EBT cash benefits, how to apply for them, what the benefits can be used to buy, and some other relevant information.