Electronic Benefits Transfer System (EBT)
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is a system which makes the issuance of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) funds and Transitional Employment Assistance (cash) benefits faster and easier through the use of electronic transactions.
Using their Arkansas EBT card, recipients can access their TEA benefits at participating Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sale (POS) devices displaying the Quest mark. SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase eligible food items at FNS authorized stores displaying the Quest mark. Quest is the funds transfer network by which most EBT transactions are routed.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) provides multiple advantages for everyone:
- Improves Service-Recipients are no longer stigmatized as purchases are made with a conventional plastic debit card.
- Offers greater security-Recipients no longer have to carry large sums of food stamps or proceeds from cashing a single check.
- Retailer Customer Service-EBT transactions are faster and more efficient. Plus, all of the SNAP funds are spent on food since no change is given.
- Fraud Detection-Improves the government’s ability to identify and track both store and recipient fraud through EBT’s detailed audit trail.
The EBT account structure is the key to getting SNAP and TEA benefits posted to the correct household.
While the SNAP and TEA case numbers are assigned by the State, the EBT account number is assigned by the EBT system and is unique to each household. An EBT account cannot contain duplicate case types. For example, a household with an EBT account containing both a SNAP and TEA case could not have a new SNAP or TEA cases added to it. If another person moves into the household and is certified to receive SNAP and/or TEA benefits on their own, they would have a different EBT account assigned to them.
There are two types of “sub-accounts” under each EBT account: A TEA (cash) benefit account and a STEP benefit account. Benefits from each of the two sub-accounts are never commingled. In both the sub-accounts, oldest benefits will be debited before newer ones (first in-first out concept).
EBT Card and PIN
The Arkansas EBT card was redesigned in October 2003. The previous Benefit Security Card will continue to work indefinitely.
The Arkansas EBT card contains the cardholder’s name and card number. All EBT cards in Arkansas are issued via the mail. Issuance of an EBT card is handled automatically when a NEW case is approved for benefits.
In cases where there have been lapses in certification, the original card and PIN will be used with the new certification. The DHHS caseworker should always ask an applicant if they still have their EBT card. If the applicant no longer has their EBT card and the demographic data remains the same as verified in the EBT system, the County Office should advise the applicant to call the EBT Help Desk at 800-997-9999 to order a replacement card. If the address or other demographic data is different, the County Office should email EBT Support and request a replacement card. The email must include the name and social security number of the recipient and the new address.
New or replacement cards are mailed by noon the next business day after the authorization file has been successfully transmitted. Arrival of the card should be within three to five business days.
Personal Identification Number (PIN)
The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is used in conjunction with the EBT card to access benefits. It is a four-digit number that is selected whenever an EBT account is created. It is the secret code that is entered on a keypad whenever the EBT card is used.
The EBT card cannot be used without the PIN. The PIN should be kept a secret. The PIN should never be shared, as benefits will NOT be replaced. The PIN should NEVER be written on the EBT card or anything that is kept with the card.
To protect the EBT account, if a PIN is entered wrong on the keypad four (4) times in a row, the account cannot be used until the next day.
In Arkansas, PIN selection in 100% via the Automated Response Unit (ARU) function at the EBT Help Desk. The recipient will call 800-997-9999 and choose select a new pin from the menu given. The cardholder will be required to enter personal information to verify identity. Once the PIN is selected, the EBT card can be used.
EBT Card Replacement
When an EBT card is lost, stolen or damaged, the recipient should call the EBT Help Desk at 800-997-9999. After verification of the recipient’s identity, and if the cardholder still resides at the address shown on the EBT system, the current card will be statused and a replacement card will be mailed. The recipient will continue using their PIN.
If, however, the address shown on the EBT system is incorrect, the Help Desk will normally status the card as lost, stolen or damaged and advise the cardholder to contact their County Office to update their address. Help Desk staff are not allowed to change addresses on the EBT system, only DHHS can do so. After the address had been updated in ANSWER, the County Office should email EBT Support to have a replacement card mailed.