Category: Government Benefits

What is EBT Card?

If you have heard people on Government Assistance talk about the EBT card and are wondering what that’s all about, look no further – we have the answers. The EBT card is used in all states to issue food stamp benefits to eligible recipients.

You have to first apply for Food Stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and be approved before you can be issued the EBT Card. Applications for Food Assistance are accepted and processed at the state level so you have to contact the department in your state that is responsible for managing the program. Once you are approved, you will be issued an EBT Card similar to a bank ATM or debit card to be used to purchase food. The benefits amount is automatically deposited onto the card.
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Recipients with food stamp benefits can use their EBT Card for eligible food purchases at most grocery stores and some other retailers. Food stamps can only be used for food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. Food stamps cannot be used to buy:

"what you can buy with EBT Card"

The EBT debit card is used by all states for their Food Stamps program and for other cash benefits. Those eligible for food assistance and have been approved are issued an EBT Card which functions just like an ATM card or a bank debit card. Each month, money is deposited on the card automatically for the beneficiary to use for the approved purpose only. Those on food stamps are approved to use their EBT debt card for approved food purchases only, otherwise, they risk being removed from the program. Once you have been removed for abusing the program, you can NEVER apply again. So its important to know what you can and cannot buy with your food stamps EBT card. 

As you can see, you can only use the card to buy essential nutritious food that is essential for everyone. It even restricts you from buying hot food, which is a good thing because if you are going to rely on the government for your food, you should buy food and go home and cook, like everyone else. Giving people the ability to use their card to buy already prepared hot food will be giving them a benefit over the tax payers, whose money is being used to provide this necessary benefit to needy families. Alcohol, tobacco and medicines are all prohibited and those found in violation can go to jail for a long time for that offense, so it is clear that there are safeguards around the program that are intended to make sure they are not abused and state and federal officials have gotten very serious at dealing with fraud.

Food Stamps Eligible for Free Government Phones?

Receipts of low income benefits like Food Stamps and WIC and Unemployment benefits want to find out if they qualify for other benefits, like the free government phone for low income people.  The idea is not far fetched since in most cases, people who get food stamps also qualify for other federal programs, like the SNAP eligibility that also places most families for the WIC program. That is because the federal guidelines for most of these program are based on the federal poverty level guidelines.

The idea goes that people who need food assistance are likely to also need assistance in other areas, like affordable phone system for their household. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which runs the free phone program, which is called the Lifeline Phone program has set up a criteria that is based on household income.  Each household that qualifies can have one Lifeline phone and since 2005 can choose between either a lifeline phone or a discount towards cell phone service. According to the a lifeline phone program website, the program is available “to those who have income levels at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines”.

So, now you know what it takes to qualify for this program. If you are getting food stamps, chances are you will also be able to apply for the free phone for low income families and if you have been able to go through the eligibility guidelines for SNAP or WIC benefits, you should have no program getting a subsidized phone program through the federal government.