How People Benefit From EBT Cards
Struggling with finances can be a stressful situation for anyone. Families that are struggling to make ends meet understand the tough decisions and sacrifices that need to be made in order to stay afloat. However, no family should need to sacrifice a basic need like food in order to stay within their budget. There are government programs, like the ones that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides that can help with this. There are programs that use things like EBT cards, that can help individuals and families get the food cost assistance that they need. In order to understand how you can benefit from using EBT cards to feed your family, you need to know how they work and what programs are utilizing them.
What are Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards?
EBT cards play the final role in the electronic system that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) uses. This system is how SNAP recipients receive and spend their benefits. Recipients of SNAP are given an EBT card to use for approved purchases at certain stores. EBT cards make it convenient for households to spend their funds. However, there are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to EBT cards. First, not every retailer accepts EBT as a valid form of payment. Additionally, you can’t purchase everything with an EBT card–only approved food items can be purchased using your SNAP benefits.
EBT has been the way for SNAP recipients to spend their funds for over 10 years! With that said EBT cards were further utilized for temporary nutrition assistance programs in addition to SNAP! One of those programs was the COVID-19 Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT). As of now, there are numerous schools approved to run this program for the 2022-2023 school year.
Understanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP is a federally funded government program offered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) that helps low-income people and families with the cost of groceries. Applicants must meet certain criteria if they want to benefit from this program. Since the focus is to help low-income families, you can expect that one of the qualifications includes income level. Why are we giving attention to SNAP? It’s because EBT cards are virtually useless without SNAP benefits!
What Food Items Are Approved to Purchase Using Benefits from SNAP?
Now that we understand who SNAP helps, let’s get into what you can buy using benefits from SNAP. We previously mentioned that EBT cards couldn’t be used to buy just any household item. Furthermore, this form of payment can’t be used at some grocery stores. Before we get into what can be purchased using SNAP, let’s outline what types of items are not approved for purchase. These include supplements such as vitamins and medicine, alcoholic beverages, etc. Whereas, the following items are able to be purchased with SNAP like grains, certain meat products, beverages that don’t contain alcohol, and more. SNAP has outlined both a list of approved and not approved food items that can be purchased using EBT. This list includes but is not limited to the items we touched on!
The Benefits You Can Get from SNAP
Now that you understand what can be purchased with SNAP benefits using EBT cards, you’re likely wondering how much assistance this program can provide. There are two important factors to keep in mind when considering how much assistance you may be able to qualify for. First, the number of household members affects the maximum amount of benefits that a family can receive. Second, each year these numbers are subject to change. The following maximums apply to most states that provide SNAP effective from October 1st, 2022 through September 30th, 2023:
- 1 person households can receive up to $281
- 2 person households can receive up to $516
- 3 person households can receive up to $740
- 4 person households can receive up to $939
- 5 person households can receive up to $1,116
- 6 person households can receive up to $1,339
- 7 person households can receive up to $1,480
- 8 person households can receive up to $1,691
- Households that have 8 or more people can get a monthly benefit of up to $211 for each additional person
These maximums should give you a good idea of what is possible with SNAP. However, one last thing to keep in mind is that no applicant is guaranteed to receive the maximum amount for their household size. The program takes a number of other factors into consideration when awarding benefits to an approved recipient.
How Long Do SNAP Benefits Continue For?
Once a recipient receives approval, they will have a certification period that details how long they can get benefits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that recipients can only get the benefits for that period. Instead, some applicants may have the option to recertify to continue to get benefits! Recipients who do not wish to recertify will not continue to receive benefits after their expiration date.
What to Do if You Disagree with a SNAP Decision
Fair hearings are an option in case an applicant does not agree with the decision made on their SNAP application. There are multiple ways you can submit a request. You can submit a request in multiple ways! A request for a fair hearing must be done within 90 days of getting a decision. Their case would then be reviewed by an official who legally has to do so fairly and objectively.
EBT cards are a part of the electronic system that allows SNAP to quickly get benefits to its recipients. EBT cards are what the recipient uses to purchase food at stores that accept them as payment. If approved, you want to ensure that the store that you plan on shopping at is an approved retailer before heading out! SNAP provides monthly grocery assistance to low-income households. If you find yourself struggling with the cost of groceries, you might benefit from SNAP or other assistance programs that utilize EBT cards. In order to qualify for a program like SNAP, you need to meet certain qualifications. Going through the application process for a program like this can be time-consuming. However, it is worth it in order to receive the assistance your family needs!