If you're receiving food stamps, you may find that sometimes you don't use the entire allotment for the month. Fortunately, you won't lose any food stamps that are left over at the end of the month. Any balance remaining on your Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card will roll over to the following month. Your benefits won't be adjusted or reduced because you aren't using the full amount every month.
You won't lose any food stamps that are left over at the end of the month. Any balance remaining on your Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, card will roll over to the following month.
Food stamps are provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, referred to as SNAP. With these vouchers, low-income families and individuals receive monthly food assistance to purchase healthy and nutritious groceries.
The goal of the SNAP program is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition while helping households achieve economic self-sufficiency. Budgeting your food stamp benefits each month is a step toward becoming self-sufficient.
If you are found eligible, you will receive a notice that tells you how long you will receive benefits, which is called your certification period. Before your certification period ends, you will receive another notice that says you must re-certify to continue receiving benefits. Contact your local SNAP office for information on re-certifying.
365 Day Rule
In general, your benefits are good for one year from the issue date. If you do not use the food stamps within a year, they will expire. If your account is inactive for 365 days, any remaining benefits left on your card will be canceled and the benefits will be permanently removed from your account. If you want to receive benefits again, you will need to reapply. However, some states may opt to impose expiration dates, so the one-year rule may not always apply.
While some SNAP program EBT cards have no expiration date, some states may impose an expiration. Call your State's EBT Customer Service Number to find out if the card you've been issued has an expiration date.
Benefits After Your Case Is Closed
Benefits that you do not use will remain on your EBT card and will not expire – provided that the card you were issued does not have an expiration date. Even if you are no longer eligible for SNAP and close your case, you can still use the amount left on your card.
However, if you're convicted of fraud or should not have received benefits due to a change you failed to report, your benefits may be taken back or you may be forced to repay them. Since each state administers its own SNAP program, the specific rules and requirements for repayment may vary.
EBT Card Expiration Dates
All states use an EBT card to deposit food assistance money and other public assistance benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. However, the name of the card itself varies among states. In Ohio, the EBT card is called a direction card. The New York EBT card is the Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC).
Some states' EBT programs do not have expiration dates. For example, Florida started issuing cards that do not expire in 2017. However, other states may have imposed expiration dates. Contact your State's EBT Customer Service Number to find out.
If your card ever becomes lost, stolen or damaged, contact EBT customer service for your state to request a new card. You can locate a list of state EBT customer service numbers on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Services website.
- Florida Department of Children and Families: Welcome to EBT
- USDA: Eligible Food Items
- Department of Job and Family Services: Ohio Direction Card
- New York State: Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card
- USDA: Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Customer Service Information
- USDA: SNAP Eligibility
- USDA: Do Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits expire?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Unemployment rate rises to record high 14.7 percent in April 2020." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- U.S. Department of the Treasury. "The CARES Act Provides Assistance to Workers and their Families." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. "SNAP Eligibility." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. "About WIC - WIC at a Glance." Accessed June 25, 2020.
- USA.gov. "Food Assistance." Accessed June 25, 2020.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.