When you're approved for food stamp benefits, the state provides you with a debit card called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. The amount of benefits you're approved for are loaded onto this card on the same day every month for as long as your benefit period lasts. You choose a four-digit personal identification number and use the card at the grocery store register the same way you would a bank debit card. The benefits are meant to be used like cash, but cash they aren't.
Cash From Food Stamps
The money on your EBT card should be treated like cash, and protected in the same way. However, you cannot cash out your food stamp benefits. The money in your food stamp account is meant to be used for food only, and the federal government ensures this by not allowing recipients cash access to their benefits.
Selling Food Stamps
If you sell or trade your food stamp benefits to someone else for a cash exchange, you're breaking the law. The United States Department of Agriculture maintains a fraud alert hotline for each state in the event that someone illegally uses her food stamps. You can be prosecuted for abusing food stamp benefits and will have to repay any money you misused.
The only way to withdraw cash from an EBT card is if you're receiving food stamp benefits in conjunction with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits as well, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. TANF is called welfare or cash welfare in some states. TANF is a cash-based assistance program for extremely low-income families.
Withdrawing TANF Benefits
You can use your EBT card to withdraw cash from your TANF account at the register or at an ATM that accepts the Quest card. Each store sets its own limit on how much you can withdraw at a time, and there may be a fee. Swipe your card, and follow the instructions displayed on the personal identification number (PIN) pad. Enter your PIN and how much cash you want. The cashier will give it to you from the register.
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."