Using Your EBT Card To Get Food Supplements or TANF

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CONTENTS
How do I get to my TANF or Food Supplements?
Do I need a special number or code to use the card?
Can I change my PIN?
How exactly do I use my card?
How will I know how much TANF money or Food Supplements I have?
When will my card work?
Does it cost me anything to use my EBT card?
What if my EBT card is lost or stolen?
Can I still get Direct Deposit to my checking account?
When to call Customer Service


How do I get to my TANF or Food Supplements?

You will get a card that looks like a credit or debit card.

To get your TANF cash you can use the card at banks, ATM machines, and many stores. This is called Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). There is never a cost to use the card to buy something at a store. However, sometimes if you just want to get cash, then there may be a cost. See the section on costs below.

QuestTo use your Food Supplements you use your EBT card whenever you buy food at grocery stores and most convenience stores. Look for the Quest sign on the door or window of the store.

Do I need a special number or code to use the card?

The EBT card works the same as a Debit card that many people have to get money from their checking or savings accounts. To use the card you must use a four digit Personal Identification Number. This is your PIN.

A couple days after you get your EBT card you will get an envelope with your PIN. The PIN has been randomly chosen for you. It is important to memorize your PIN or keep it written in a place separate from your EBT card so that no one else can use your card.

Can I change my PIN?

You can change your PIN to a number that you choose. To do so, just call Customer Service at 1-800-477-7428. You will need your 19 digit card number. You can change your PIN to a number that has meaning to you so that it is easier to remember. If you enter your PIN four times incorrectly, your card will stop working until the next day.

How exactly do I use my card?

To buy something, you or the store clerk will swipe your card through a machine. You will then enter your secret PIN. Do not tell your PIN to the clerk! The store clerk will give you a keypad to enter the number yourself. If you want cash back with your purchase, you will need to either tell the clerk how much you want back or you will be able to enter the amount of cash back on the machine. Not all stores allow you to get cash back. Stores that do allow you to get cash back usually have a dollar limit.

If you are buying both food and non-food items and want to use a combination of your Food Supplements and TANF benefits to pay, you will have to swipe your card through the machine twice and enter your PIN twice.

If a store does not have an EBT machine, or if the machine is not working, they may use a paper voucher. Also, many Farmers Markets will accept your EBT card. If they do not have a machine, they can use a paper voucher. When using a paper voucher, you will not need to use your PIN. You will need to sign your name on the paper voucher. Be sure you do not tell the clerk your PIN. Do Not write your PIN on the paper voucher!

How will I know how much TANF money or Food Supplements I have?

Every time you buy something or take cash out of your TANF account, you will get a receipt showing how much is left in your account(s). The card will not allow you to take out more cash or use more Food Supplements than you have in your account.

You can also find out how much is in each account by calling Customer Service at 1-800-477-7428. This is a toll free call. You will get a recording when you call, and you will be able to use your touch-tone phone or voice commands to select different options. You will be able to get the information you want without speaking to a live person. However, live Customer Service representatives staff this phone line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need to speak to a live person, you will be able to do so.

When will my card work?

Your TANF benefits will be available at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of each month. Your Food Supplements will be available at 12:01 a.m. sometime between the 10th and 14th of the month, depending on your date of birth. Once your Food Supplement day is set, it will always be the same date each month.

The only time you will get mail about your TANF or Food Supplement amounts will be after recertification or when your benefit amounts change.

Does it cost me anything to use my EBT card?

There is never a cost to use your EBT card for Food Supplement purchases. However, remember you can only buy allowable food items with your Food Benefits. You cannot get cash back from your Food Supplement account.

Sometimes it costs money to get your TANF benefits. Normally, if you buy something at a store that allows you to get cash back, there will be no additional cost. However, if you go to an ATM machine, a bank, or use the Customer Service counter at Hannaford, Shaw's or other supermarkets, there may be a cost.

There are two different types of costs:

  1. FEES. The state charges a fee of 65 cents to use your EBT cash card in some circumstances. You don’t need to pay the state for the first two cash withdrawals each month. However, after the first two cash withdrawals a month, the state will charge 65 cents for each additional withdrawal at an ATM machine. To avoid this fee you can get cash back when making a purchase, and no fee will be charged.

  2. SURCHARGES. At many banks and ATMs you will pay a surcharge when using your EBT card to get your cash TANF and other cash benefits. Slide your card in the ATM and enter your PIN. At this point if there is a surcharge to use the machine, a message will appear that says how much the surcharge will be. If you don’t want to pay the surcharge, you can cancel the transaction and there will be no surcharge. If you continue, the surcharge will be automatically deducted from your account.
    Surcharges vary from bank to bank and from machine to machine. Some surcharges can be as high as $2.00 or even $3.00 per transaction. There is no surcharge when you use your EBT card to buy food.

What if my EBT card is lost or stolen?

If you lose your EBT card, you can get it replaced by calling the Customer Service line at 1-800-477-7428. You will need to give them your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Your new EBT card will be mailed out the next business day. You get your original card plus one free replacement per year. After that there may be a fee of between $1.00 and $5.00 to get your card replaced.

If your EBT card is stolen, call Customer Service and they can put a freeze on your account, send you a new card and you can change your PIN. That way, if someone tries to use your card, your old PIN will not work.

Can I still get Direct Deposit to my checking account?

If you have been getting your TANF benefits deposited to your checking account, this will not change. You will get an EBT card for your Food Supplements only. If you want, you can contact DHHS and ask them to stop your direct deposit and put your TANF benefits on your EBT card.

If you have not been getting direct deposit to your checking account but would like to start it, contact your TANF eligibility worker and ask them to set it up.

When to call Customer Service

1-800-477-7428 - Toll Free

Customer Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can answer any questions you may have about how to get your benefits. The customer service number is first answered by a computer. You will be asked to enter your 19 digit card number. If you do not have a touch-tone phone, you can speak with a live person. If your card has been lost or stolen and you don't know your card number, you will be given directions on what to do.

Call Customer Service if:

  • You have questions or problems using your EBT card or PIN
  • You want to change your PIN
  • Your card is lost or stolen
  • You think there is a mistake with a transaction

You can also call Customer Service to find out:

  • Your Food Supplement or TANF account balance(s)
  • A list of your last ten transactions

Updated July 2011

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