How to Figure Your Qualifications for an EBT Card

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Assistance is available to those who can't afford food to feed their families.
Assistance is available to those who can't afford food to feed their families. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer and is the new method for disbursing state-funded food programs. Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards replace paper food stamps and checks. The cards, similar to a debit card or ATM card, are safer and more secure than carrying cash or checks, allow for faster payment; the user can also check the balance of the card by calling a number written on the back of the card or online. EBT cards are used in all 50 states and are dispersed based on income qualifications and family size.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet
  • Computer
  • Wage or income verification documents

Visit the website of the local department of health services in your state. This website can usually be located by typing in the keywords "department of health services" and the state in which you reside in the search bar on your computer. Once located, the department of health services website will be the best source of location additional information on EBT specific to the area in which you reside. Many states allow you to apply online for EBT or foodshare program benefits.

Determining your eligibility to receive food benefits is based on gross income levels. A chart is available to determine if you will qualify for EBT. This chart can be located on the state department of health services website or through a local agency office.

Calculate your gross (before taxes) monthly income via your paycheck stubs.

Find your gross monthly income on the chart.

Locate your family size on the chart.

Use the chart to determine what percentage your income and family size falls into based on the Federal Poverty Limit. Typically, if your family's net income is at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level, you can qualify for EBT benefits.

Apply online or in your local agency's office for EBT benefits so that additional factors can be considered in determining your potential for eligibility for benefits. Age and disabilities are not factored into the income and family size chart and may qualify you to receive benefits once an agency representative has reviewed your application.

Tips & Warnings

  • U. S. citizens and many non-citizens are eligible for the program.
  • Local agencies offer assistance in completing the application for EBT benefits.
  • Benefits are renewed on a yearly basis, so changing circumstances may limit your ability to renew your benefits.

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