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.
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.
365 Day Rule
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.
Benefits After Your Case Is Closed
Benefits that you do not use will remain on your EBT card and will not expire. 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 a benefit card. Depending on your state, the card may expire. For example, in Florida, EBT cards expire every four years and a replacement card is automatically issued. In Massachusetts, EBT cards never expire. If your card is 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.
- Food and Nutrition Service: Ask the Expert - Will the Balance of My SNAP Benefits Expire
- Florida Department of Children and Families: Welcome to EBT
- Food and Nutrition Service: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Research
- Mass Legal Help: Getting and Using Food Stamps
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare: Frequently Asked Questions
- Food and Nutrition Service: SNAP - What Can I Buy?