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What are EBT cash benefits? They’re government benefits paid directly to an EBT card, which functions like a debit card. In this article, we’ll show you what programs provide EBT cash benefits and how to get them for yourself.
What Are EBT Cash Benefits
An Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows the government to send benefits payments to a special debit card, called an EBT card. This card allows users to pay for food or other items using their benefit funds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Another common program that issues benefit payments via EBT is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF is a federally funded, state-run benefits program that helps families achieve independence after experiencing temporary difficulties. The program, which goes by different names in different states, may help recipients pay for such things as food, housing, home energy, child care, and job training.
An EBT cash benefit is applied directly 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.
When a SNAP participant shops at an authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for the food they purchased.
SNAP EBT is used 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 has been the sole method of SNAP issuance in all 50 states since 2004.
Where Can I Use EBT Cash Benefits?
After people ask “what are EBT cash benefits?” they usually ask where those benefits can be spent. There are many limits on where users can spend their SNAP (food stamps) funds, but there are fewer restrictions on EBT cash benefits.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, EBT cards “can be used at any retail establishment that accepts debit cards and can withdraw cash,” but many states have prohibited their use at casinos, liquor stores, gambling establishments and other locations.
What Can I Buy with My EBT Cash Benefits?
What you can buy will be dictated by the state program that you are participating in. Each state can set their own rules.
Generally, if you are receiving benefits via TANF, you may be able to use the benefit funds may for such things as food, housing costs, home energy, child care, and job training.
Similar to SNAP restrictions, you cannot use your TANF EBT benefits to buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco.
I Lost My EBT Benefits Card
If your EBT benefits card was damaged, lost, or stolen, check out this helpful page from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The page offers a state-by-state list of phone numbers to call and websites to seek out in the event that your card is damaged, lost, or stolen.
While researching and applying for SNAP and TANF EBT benefits can take some time, they are valuable benefits that can help your family purchase healthy food, find stability, and move towards self-sufficiency.
Remember, there are plenty of people and organizations that are available to help. You can visit SNAP’s Application and Local Office Locators page here to get more information online or you can call the SNAP hotline at 1-800-221-5689.
We hope through this article you learned more about what are EBT cash benefits, how to apply for them, and what the funds can be used for.