Skip to Content

Q&A: Why Did I Get Cash on My EBT Card Today?

Q&A: Why Did I Get Cash on My EBT Card Today?

If you’re perplexed by the sudden appearance of cash on your EBT card, you’re not alone! There are many reasons why SNAP users sometimes get unexpected cash deposits but the reasons behind them aren’t always clearly communicated by the government.


When I was receiving food stamps about 15 years ago, I remember being surprised by an unexpected $20 cash deposit on my card. I thought something had gone wrong with my account! I was afraid to spend the money because I didn’t want to get in trouble or put my SNAP benefits at risk. A few days later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was intentional and that I was allowed to spend that money.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that my concerns aren’t unique! Many readers have asked us some variation of “Why did I get cash on my EBT card today?” over the years.

Why You Got Cash on Your EBT Card

If you got cash on your EBT card today that you weren’t expecting, your state most likely authorized a one-time cash payment. This is something that has become more common in the last few years.

These payments may be due to an emergency situation, a government surplus, or just an act of generosity on behalf of your local government.


Here’s a list of disbursements that put cash on EBT cards in the last 12 months:

  • October 2023: New York sent $100 payments to children in families who received SNAP or other benefits.
  • August 2023: Connecticut sent $55 to eligible children to help with back-to-school shopping.
  • July 2023: Tennessee issued a one-time cash payment to help families prepare for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • November 2022: Georgia issued a $350 cash payment to residents who received benefits from Medicaid, PeachCare, SNAP or TANF.

These cash benefits are provided to alleviate specific needs. As you can see from the list, several states scheduled their cash payments to help alleviate the financial strain of buying school supplies. Others coincide with budget windfalls or unused funds that must be spent by a certain time.

How to Verify the Reason Yourself

If your state has decided to make a one-time cash payment, there are ways that you can verify this information for yourself. It’s always best to make sure that you know what’s going on before you spend the money.

Contact the SNAP Office

The first and most obvious solution is to call the office in charge of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in your state. This will usually be your state’s Department of Social Services, Department of Human Services or Department of Workforce Services.

However, these offices can be very difficult to reach. It is not uncommon to spend hours on hold trying to reach someone. Therefore, this is not a practical solution for many people.

Check the State Website

If your state government has decided to offer a one-time cash payment for residents with EBT cards, it will usually be announced in a press release. These press releases are often prominently featured on the state government website.

You can do a simple internet search for “press release” “EBT” and your state name to see if there have been any announcements in your area.


Contact Your Local News

Local news agencies are often the first to report on these press releases. You can search their website to see if they have covered it or reach out to them directly to see if they are aware of anything.

You may also be able to find information on our website, since we do a weekly resource recap of all the latest low income news from around the country. Check our latest news updates to see if there have been any recent announcements in your area.

How Food Stamps Works

In order to understand why you got cash on your EBT card, it helps to understand how the food stamps program works.

The Food Stamp Program, known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal government program that helps people buy food. The money comes from the federal government, specifically through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which allocates money to states based on the number of eligible participants and their calculated benefits.

The money is then managed by the states. The states determine who is eligible, calculate the benefits for each household, and distribute these benefits. The distribution is facilitated through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, functioning similarly to debit cards, which are loaded with the benefit amount each month.

Sometimes, states can decide to add additional benefits with state money. This is what’s happening in New Jersey, where the state government has decided that everyone should receive at least $95 per month from the food stamps program. The federal government pays New Jersey the normal amount and New Jersey pitches in extra money to increase food stamps benefits for their residents.


States can also decide to provide cash benefits to their SNAP users as well, which is why some states have authorized those one-time payments. If you unexpectedly get cash on your EBT card, it’s most likely because your state has decided to authorize a special supplemental payment.

Relief Recap

If you get cash on your EBT card when you aren’t expecting it, you don’t need to worry. Many states have issued special one-time supplemental payments to their SNAP users. In this article, we review the most common reason why you may have received cash today and how you can verify the cause for yourself. Follow the steps in this article to figure out why this happened to you today.