Are you having trouble paying for groceries every month? Do you not earn enough money to cover all of your expenses? Well, there might be a way to help you out through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. These cards offer funds for you from federal programs to offer financial relief on food expenses. If you are not familiar with these cards, then this article can offer more insight for you! This program will help you out with grocery costs that can allow you to focus on other aspects where you are financially struggling.
SNAP 101: What You Should Know
Understanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is key for you to get the full picture on what EBT cards are. This government program is available at the federal level. However, states are the ones that operate it so specifics will vary depending on location.This program allows those that face financial instability to pay for groceries every month, but there are specific requirements to qualify. The exact number that households will get varies depending on the specific situation that a household is facing. However, there are maximums in place to be aware of! For example, up until September 30th, 2023, the most that a family of four can get is $939 a month. Now, let’s find out where EBT cards play a role in the program!
You should keep in mind that there are eligibility requirements that a person needs to meet to get SNAP benefits. These requirements depend on your current situation. Some of the requirements would include how much you earn, how many people are in your household, and so on.
Making Sense of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
EBT cards are used almost everywhere, and have been around for the past nineteen years and counting. Programs like SNAP and Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) make use of this card. The main difference between these options are their requirements. For example, for P-EBT only approved states are able to use EBT through the program. This program is centered around school use, and was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these states include Hawaii, Minnesota, Vermont, and many more. Overall EBT cards allow qualifying recipients to buy groceries, so long as an approved retailer accepts EBT as a form of payment.
Eligible Groceries to Buy With EBT Cards
SNAP sets guidelines on what you can buy with EBT cards. Furthermore, you should know that there are some items in the grocery store that you cannot buy with these cards. Some of the following groceries do not qualify to buy with SNAP benefits:
- Beverages with alcohol
- Animals that are alive (but there are exceptions)
- Hot meals at the point of sale
- Supplements (including vitamins and medications)
Furthermore, you can buy the following with SNAP benefits through EBT cards:
- Fresh produce (including fruits and vegetables)
- Different kinds of meat (including poultry and fish)
- Grain and dairy products (including cereals and bread)
- Plants (and seeds) that households can grow to eat
Applying and Getting SNAP Benefits: How It Works
Do you want to start on your SNAP application? You can do so by contacting your state’s SNAP agency in various different ways. Typically, it takes about a month for your state or local SNAP agency to go through your application and inform you of your eligibility status. Your state’s SNAP agency will clarify the specific process that the state goes through to review your application. However, a general requirement would be attending an eligibility interview and providing confirmation documents to your state agency. That way, you can prove the information of your application.
Now let’s say that the program refuses your application. What happens next? Is it over? No, it is not! You can actually ask for a fair hearing. If you want to submit a hearing request, then you should submit within 90 days of when the program refused your application. You can send in a hearing request online, on the phone, or face-to-face. The hearing takes place with an official representative to look through your case. Furthermore, the representative should review your case in a fair and objective manner as a legal requirement.
If approved, not re-certifying could lead to losing your SNAP benefits. The certification period comes as a notice to you, detailing the necessary information you need and how long you will get it for. Re-certifying can increase the period of time you’ll be able to use these benefits, so long as you continue to meet the requirements. You can expect a notice soon after your application is processed and hopefully approved.
Know you are not alone when the struggles of life come to get you. You learned in this article of federal programs that are available to assist in a time of need. The use of EBT cards through SNAP can help a struggling family with food costs. Keep in mind that not every supermarket or grocery item is acceptable for SNAP benefits.
Meeting requirements are also a factor to take note of. Examples such as household members, income, and job status play a key role when applying. Remembering SNAP has multiple resources to assist and the application is free. Ways to reach out for assistance include , by phone, in person, and online.
Furthermore, if you qualify for benefits, then SNAP will notify you on how much and how long you will receive benefits. However, it is up to you to make sure that you re-certify when the certification period ends, which is the amount of time you receive benefits. If you do not go through with the re-certification process, then you might end up losing your benefits!