This article will tell you what you need to know about Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards and the program that uses them! EBT cards are used by millions of people, but not everyone knows about them. These cards can help you and your family out in one of the most important ways by supporting your food costs. If you want to know how you can get these cards, then you should find out more about the program that uses them! The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers EBT cards and you can easily access the cards through your local or state agency.
Defining Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
EBT cards have been used for over a decade. Though they have mainly been associated with SNAP there are other federal programs that make use of the card as well. The Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) was one of these temporary programs which supported people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, some states received approval to operate the P-EBT program during the 2022-2023 academic year. There is still hope for you out there! To purchase with an EBT card a recipient must follow certain guidelines. Keep in mind that EBT cards are only available to use in supermarkets that allow this kind of payment method.
Understanding SNAP and Applying For It
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is in charge of the food assistance program that uses these cards. You can learn more about these cards when you understand how SNAP works. SNAP is a food assistance program. To apply for SNAP benefits, you should contact the SNAP agency in your state, which you can do online, on the phone, or in person. However, you should know that there are certain conditions that you need to meet in order to qualify.
Regardless of how you contact them, you should follow the application process in your state. This is because each state has its own version of the program, including how to apply and the application process itself. If the program approves your application, then SNAP will inform you of the amount of time that you will receive the benefits, otherwise known as your certification period.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, you should know it takes about a month for your local or state SNAP agency to look through your application. If you want to keep getting benefits, then you should go through the recertification process. Luckily, you will not need to circle your calendars for it. The program will be there to remind you when your current certification period is about to expire.
The Amount of SNAP Benefits To Get and What You Can Use Them On
Did you know that you cannot just go into a grocery store and buy whatever you want with these EBT cards? That’s right, SNAP has a list of groceries that are eligible to purchase and groceries that are not. You can buy all kinds of meat, fresh produce, dairy products, snacks, and grain products. There are more things that you can buy, but they should be items that are for your family’s consumption. On the other hand, it is not possible to purchase non-food items, live animals, tobacco/alcohol products with SNAP funds.
Now, let’s talk about how much you can get from SNAP to put in your EBT cards. It will depend on your financial situation, but there are limits based on the number of members in your family. These limits can change, but they are currently available until Sept. 30, 2023. Typically, almost every state that participates in SNAP follows the limits for the maximum benefit amount. For example, a family of four members can receive a maximum of $939. However, a household with eight members can get a maximum of $1,691. However, certain states and U.S. territories can have different maximums. This includes Hawaii, Alaska, etc.
Besides Monthly Support
While many people think SNAP is just about monthly support loaded onto an EBT card, it is much more than that! In fact, people have opportunities to see additional perks like:
- Discounts on utility bills
- Internet discounts
- Museum and other recreational discounts
If You Disagree With The Program’s Decision, Then You Can Do Something About It
Unfortunately, you might find some specific instances where SNAP could refuse your application. However, that is not necessarily the end of the line for you. You do not need to give up and walk away. You can ask for a hearing within three months of SNAP’s decision, which you can submit online, on the phone, or in-person. What is the point of this hearing? Well, this hearing allows a legal official to look through your case fairly and objectively, in order to review it again. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that your case is ruled in your favor even if you were denied at first!
Now you know what EBT cards are and how they work! If you want to get an EBT card from SNAP, then a good place to get more information is your local or state SNAP agency. Before you move forward, you should keep in mind that each state has its own application process. These cards work like debit cards. Recipients can use the funds from these cards for the purposes of food support. However, you cannot buy just any type of groceries with EBT cards. You can buy food items that have been approved. There are also certain things that you cannot buy, like alcohol and tobacco products, non-food items, and so on.
It’s also important to remember that EBT is used for other programs as well. The P-EBT is one of the programs that also uses this card. It is a school focused program that has received approval to operate this 2022-2023 academic year. So while you or others may be struggling with the cost of groceries. You should know that there are more assistance opportunities out there than you can imagine, and you may be able to benefit.