Selling food stamps for cash is not permitted. However, the EBT card you use for food purchases can help you obtain some money for other purchases under particular circumstances. So, it would be best to learn how the EBT system works to avoid getting in trouble.
Generally, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that enables people to get public assistance. Examples include food stamp participants who use their pre-paid or debit cards to pay for food at retailers taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The money is usually deposited into the participant’s program account. And when they make approved purchases, the amounts spent are deducted from it. It is worth noting that the EBT card has been the only way through which food stamp participants have received their benefits since 2004.
You will get an EBT card after you submit an application at your local Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and they consider you eligible. Then the debit card will receive funding each month for your use. However, you need to come up with a secret Personal Identification Number (PIN) to enable you to make purchases using the card as you would with an ATM card.
What’s the Difference Between EBT Food and EBT Cash?
So, what’s the difference between EBT food and EBT cash? Well, it lies in the designated and permitted purchases.
EBT food refers to the food account low-income SNAP participants can access using their cards thanks to SNAP funds. However, purchases like alcohol and pet food are not allowed under the program.
On the other hand, EBT cash gives you access to money via the EBT cash account card to pay for things other than food, such as utility bills, transportation and rent. If you are also a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participant, you are likely to access that kind of account. However, you can also get cash if you are part of the Refugee Cash Assistance program or State General Assistance program.
And you can withdraw your cash benefits from an ATM at your local bank or retailer provided you remember your PIN. Also, some stores will let you withdraw money even without making any purchases. In addition, some retailers will give you cash back above the purchase costs. However, you cannot use your EBT cash account money to pay for unauthorized purchases such as guns, travel, tattoos, pornographic materials and tobacco products.
Remember, when swiping your card to pay for purchases or withdraw money, only you can enter your PIN. So, keep it secret to ensure your benefits are secure. And always confirm the totals first before paying for things.
Tracking Your EBT Cash Balance
Your EBT cash balance refers to the amount you have left over after making authorized purchases. The smart thing to do is to keep the amount in mind every time you withdraw money or buy something to stay within the monthly limits. And you can keep track of your cash balance in several ways.
First, you can refer to your last store receipt. It has a section that indicates your EBT cash balance after you made previous purchases.
You can also call 1-888-328-2666 and inquire about your balance. It’s a toll-free helpline.
Third, you could access the ebtEDGE Cardholder Portal or download the ebtEDGE Mobile Application from the Apple App or Google Play store, register, log in and check your balance and transaction history.
And lastly, you can key in your PIN at authorized ATMs and check your EBT debit card balance.
Selling Food Stamps for Cash
Selling food stamps for cash is wrong. It is considered criminal for you or any retailer to take part in such a thing. And the USDA considers the unauthorized use of food stamp benefits exceeding $100 as a felony since it is violates the Food Stamp Act.
You will be penalized if you are caught selling food stamps for cash and found guilty of violating the law. And these penalties include:
- Payment of fines of up to $250,000
- Payment of restitution
- Asset forfeitures
- Imprisonment of up to 20 years
- Revocation of food stamp benefits for a year or more
- Disqualification of the retailer from the SNAP program temporarily or permanently
It would be wise for you to avoid breaking the rules concerning food stamps. Use your EBT cash card as it’s meant to be used without selling food stamps for cash. Also, ensure all your purchases are authorized. If you stick to the rules, you will enjoy your EBT card benefits for as long as you need them.
- USDA.Gov: What Is Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)?
- DHHR.WV.Gov: Frequently Asked Questions
- ONGOV.Net: Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) How to Use Your Benefit Card to Get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Cash Benefits
- PTLA.Org: Using Your EBT Card to Get Food Supplements and TANF
- Yahoo! Finance: Why Buying Food Stamps Is a Bad Idea
- Farmers Market Legal Toolkit.Org: Enforcement and Penalties
- FAS.Org: Errors and Fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- DHHR.WV.Gov: How to Use Your Card
I hold a BS in Computer Science and have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.