How To Check Your EBT Balance In Kansas [Get The Facts]
For many low-income Americans, EBT is quite literally a lifesaver. Cash benefits, distributed via EBT accounts, give households extra money for food groceries. This makes sure that a low-income family isn’t forced to miss out on nutrition and a healthy diet.
So, if you or a loved one is starting to use EBT, what should you know about these benefits? Are there any restrictions that you should be aware of, and what happens if you buy an unapproved item?
Let’s discuss the answer to these questions and more in this article.
Table of Contents:
What Is EBT?
EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfers, which is an umbrella term for all electronically issued cash benefits. In years gone by, benefits like food stamps would be issued via paper coupons, but all benefits are now given out and used electronically.
Electronic transactions minimize the chances of benefit fraud, which includes deliberately buying unapproved items (like alcohol and tobacco products), selling food stamp coupons to others, or exchanging benefits for cash.
To pay for groceries with your EBT balance, you’ll be given a plastic payment card. You swipe this card at the checkout and enter a PIN number, just like you would with a regular payment card. However, unlike a debit or credit card, you can’t overdraw your EBT account – once your benefits run out, you won’t be able to make any more purchases.
You can also use your EBT card number and PIN to shop online, just like you would with a debit or credit card. However, you may need to have another method of payment attached. This is because while your EBT card will cover the grocery items you buy online, it won’t cover the cost of any personal items, delivery fees, or tips.
What Can You Buy With EBT?
The vast majority of food items are covered by EBT, with a few notable exceptions that we’ll discuss later.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables (frozen, canned, or fresh)
- Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood
- Dairy and dairy substitutes (milk, cheese, coconut, soy, and almond milk, etc)
- Non-alcoholic beverages (soda, juice, bottled water, etc)
- Bread, grains, and cereals
- Baking ingredients (sugar, flour, etc)
- Baby food
- Snack foods (chips, candy, ice cream, etc)
As you can see, EBT users have a lot of freedom when it comes to spending their benefits. “Gray area” items, like ice, baby food, snacks, coffee beans, and more are also included, as well as “luxury” items like steak and seafood.
The criteria for an acceptable EBT/SNAP purchase is that it must be a food item that you can prepare and eat at home, with no rules regarding price or brand.
What Can’t You Buy With EBT?
Since SNAP and EBT benefits are designed to pay for food items only, non-food groceries are not covered by your EBT benefits. Unfortunately, this may include necessary and essential non-food items.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Lottery tickets/gambling
- Medicines, vitamins, and supplements (some energy drinks are classed as supplements)
- Pet food
- Personal items (electronics, cosmetics, furniture, clothes, etc)
- Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning products)
- Hot, preprepared food (hot coffee, rotisserie chickens, restaurant food – although this may vary depending on your circumstances)
- Hygiene and grooming items (sanitary pads, tampons, soap, shampoo, etc)
While some unapproved items are obviously inappropriate – tobacco products and alcohol, for instance – some of these items are essential goods. Hygiene products, medicines, pet foods, and more are all necessary expenses.
However, you’ll need to use your own money to buy these items. Most stores allow customers to make multiple payments on one load of shopping, allowing you to pay for non-food items with your own money, and food groceries with your EBT card.
How to Check Your EBT Balance In Kansas
The easiest way to check your EBT balance (in Kansas or anywhere else) is to review your last receipt. Failing that, you can call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card.
However, many users prefer to log onto their online accounts to check their balances. Here’s how to do that.
- Step One: Start by visiting this site. You’ll be prompted to enter your user ID and password. Click the login button, and you’ll then be able to access your account and view your balance.
- Step Two: If you’re having difficulty signing in, click the “trouble signing in” option below the login box. Then you’ll be prompted to select your problem (forgotten password, forgotten user ID, etc). Then, follow the instructions given onscreen to either retrieve your ID, reset your password, or unlock your user ID for a first-time user.
- Step Three: If you’re still not comfortable using your online account, click on the “trouble signing in FAQs” option in red at the bottom of the page. This will open a downloadable pamphlet discussing how to login to your cardholder and portal and other frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
Many new EBT users have lots of questions. Let’s discuss a few commonly asked questions for using EBT in Kansas.
- What’s the monthly income limit for food stamps in Kansas?
The amount of food stamps money a household can receive will depend on the size of the household and their income. For example, a household containing one person could receive $194 in monthly SNAP benefits, while also earning $1354 a month.
A household of 4 could receive $646 in SNAP benefits a month, while also earning $2790 a month.
- What is the difference between EBT and SNAP?
EBT refers to the electronic account used to receive benefits, whereas SNAP refers to your actual food stamps benefits. You can have an EBT account but not receive SNAP benefits, but you must have an EBT account to receive SNAP benefits.
The Bottom Line
Using your EBT card and accessing your balance may seem challenging at first. However, the system is designed to be intuitive, and with a little practice, using your benefits will become as easy as using a regular payment card.