All over America, millions of low-income families rely on their monthly EBT benefits to supplement their income. EBT, commonly used to distribute SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, allows users to buy a wide variety of healthy and nutritious foods.
EBT also allows users to buy “luxury” food items, like snack foods and high-quality items. Essentially, it’s up to you how you spend your EBT benefits – up to a point.
Not all items are covered by EBT. Using your benefits incorrectly could result in penalties and even a suspension of your account.
So, what is EBT? What should you spend it on – and what shouldn’t you spend it on? Let’s find out.
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Table of Contents:
- What is EBT?
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- How to Check Your EBT Balance (Ohio)
- The Bottom Line
- Need Burial Insurance?
What is EBT?
EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a way of distributing all electronic benefits. SNAP benefits are the most common use of EBT, but it’s also used for other benefits.
Your monthly benefits will be paid into an online account, which you can access and view online or via phone. You get a plastic card, like a debit or credit card, which you can use to make purchases.
You can’t use your EBT card to get cash, either from an ATM or as cash back at the till. EBT is only eligible to be used for food items, and all non-food items (even essential household supplies) are strictly off the table.
You can’t overspend your EBT account. Once you’ve run out of money, you won’t be able to make any more purchases until your next lot of benefits are deposited. However, any leftover benefits will roll on to the next month.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables (frozen, canned, or fresh)
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy (cheese, milk, etc)
- Non-dairy (almond milk, etc)
- Bread, cereals, and grains
- Baby food and formula
- Beans, nuts, legumes, etc
- Snack foods (ice cream, chips, etc)
- Non-alcoholic beverages (like soda and juice)
- Baking and cooking ingredients (flour, sugar, etc)
Essentially, most whole food items and food ingredients are covered by EBT. Not all, however, as we’ll discuss next.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco products
- Gambling/lottery tickets
- Pet food/live animals
- Clothes, cosmetics, or other personal items
- Hot food and drink (rotisserie chickens, hot coffee, etc)
- Fast food and restaurant food
- Medicines, vitamins, and supplements (some energy drinks are classed as supplements)
- Household supplies (paper goods, cleaning products, etc)
- Hygiene and grooming products (soap, shampoo, etc)
As you can see, some unapproved items are still necessary household items, like hygiene products and household supplies.
So, how can you buy these essentials?
Simply put, you’ll need to use your own money. Since most stores allow customers to make several payments on a load of shopping, you can use your EBT card to buy food and your own money to buy non-food groceries.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
While EBT is a nationwide program, each state has slightly different rules for how it should be used. So, it’s a good idea to do a little research before you travel or move to a new state.
- How do I check my EBT balance in Ohio?
Just like anywhere else in America, you can review your balance by checking your last receipt or logging into your online account. Alternatively, you can call this toll-free number 1-866-386-3071.
- How long does it take to get approved for food stamps benefits in Ohio?
How to Check Your EBT Balance (Ohio)
The easiest way to check your EBT balance is to look at your last receipt. Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why you might not be able to access your latest receipt. In that case, the next simplest way to check your account (and review other information) is to log in to your online account.
Here’s how to do that.
- Step One: Start by visiting this website. It will take you directly to the Ohio EBT login page. Once you’ve entered your user ID and password, you can log in to your account and view your balance, as well as reviewing other information. To the right of the login box, you’ll notice an information box that tells you what to do if you need to contact customer service, or you feel that someone could have stolen your card, or if your EBT card is lost.
- Step Two: If you’ve forgotten your user ID, click the “forgotten user ID” option below the login button. This will take you to another page where you can enter some details, like your social security number, date of birth, and EBT card number. Then, you’ll need to correctly answer the security questions you chose during your account setup. Once you’ve completed this, your user ID will be emailed to you.
- Step Three: If you’ve forgotten your password, click the “forgot password” button below the login box. You’ll be prompted to enter your social security number, date of birth, and EBT card number. Then you’ll be able to reset your password and enter a new one. You’ll notice an information box on the right of the reset password box, which details what you’ll need to do to create a suitable password.
- Step Four: If this is your first time logging into your online EBT account, select the “Create User Account” option below the login button. You’ll need to enter details like your social security number and card number to set up your account for the first time.
The Bottom Line
Logging into an online account is the simplest way to keep track of your benefits. Even if you aren’t initially comfortable with using your new EBT benefits, they are designed to be user-friendly. Remember, these benefits are made to benefit you and your household.
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