Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps as they are more commonly known, are monthly cash benefits paid out to low-income individuals and families who meet certain income eligibility requirements.
SNAP is federally funded, but the funds are distributed to each state, which then administers and delegates its own program rules and requirements. Each state will have its own application and approval processes, most easily done online.
The benefits are paid out on what is known as an Electronics Benefit Card, or an EBT card. Some states have their own names for these cards, but they are widely known as EBT or food stamps cards. These cards are prepaid debit cards that recipients use at any participating grocer or vendor in order to purchase food. Some states even allow for the use of EBT cards at farmer’s markets, and in Alaska, can even be used for fishing equipment to catch your own food.
Each month, benefits are loaded onto the EBT cards on a predetermined date by the state administering the program. For example, if your state has determined everyone with a case number ending in 1 will receive payments on the 1st of each month, then your EBT card will be loaded with money every 1st of the month.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, any recipients that have remaining money on their EBT card at the end of the month will have those benefits rolled over into the next month. This means if you do not use up all of your benefits in one month, they do not go to waste — you can simply use them the next month or hold on to them for when you need them.
Important to note: the USDA states that should one not use their EBT card at all for one year, the state will permanently remove SNAP benefits from their EBT account.
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