For the vast majority of American families, budgets are a necessity rather than an optional extra. We all have bills to pay, and some of us have families to feed. Managing budgets can be tricky, as some months can work out more expensive than others.
For families who use EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer), working to a budget is even more important, so as not to risk overspending on your benefits. So, it’s important to keep an eye on your EBT balance.
How can you check your EBT balance (PA: Pennsylvania)? Are the rules different between states? Are there extra pandemic benefits? We’ll discuss all these questions and more in this article.
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Table Of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- How Do I Check the Balance on my Pennsylvania EBT Card?
- Need Burial Insurance?
What Is EBT?
EBT is an umbrella term for all electronic benefits. It mostly refers to food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits. While food stamps were once handed out as physical paper coupons, they’re now transferred electronically.
Electronic benefits can make shopping much easier. For example, you can now use your food stamps to buy groceries online.
What you can buy with EBT:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Breads, cereals, and grains
- Meat, poultry, and seafood
- Dairy (cheese, milk, etc)
- Snack foods (icecream, candy, chips, etc)
What you can’t buy with EBT:
- Household supplies (cleaning products, hygiene and grooming products, paper goods, etc)
- Vitamins and medicines
- Tobacco products
- Gambling/lottery tickets
- Hot food, or prepared food designed to be eaten immediately
Trying to buy unapproved items can lead to your card being declined, or you will have to pay for the items yourself later.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
All governmental benefits come with rules and restrictions. It’s important to get familiar with what you can and can’t buy with EBT, to avoid any consequences later on.
Let’s briefly discuss a few commonly asked questions about EBT in the state of Pennsylvania.
Do EBT rules differ between states?
The basic principles of EBT remain the same in different states, but there may be some slightly different rules. For example, most states have their own EBT login site.
Some states will allow certain EBT benefit holders to buy food in restaurants. This is designed to benefit disabled users or those who can’t prepare food at home.
This benefit doesn’t apply everywhere, and can only be used in selected stores. For the average EBT user, restaurants and pre-prepared food still aren’t covered by their EBT card.
However, you can use your EBT card in virtually every state in the USA. The rules about what you can and can’t buy also remain the same.
What is P EBT?
The recent pandemic has had a serious impact on the economy. One way that low-income families have suffered is due to school closures. Children and students who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals now aren’t able to access that food.
Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P EBT) is designed to supplement that loss. In Pennsylvania, children or students who receive meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) will qualify for P EBT.
To find out whether your child fits the requirements for P EBT, visit this site.
Will P EBT benefits continue in Pennsylvania?
P EBT benefits in Pennsylvania have been approved to continue into the 2021 school year. You should hang on to your P EBT card, and stay up to date with the latest instructions.
Since the covid-19 situation changes from month to month, extra pandemic benefits will be changed as and when it becomes necessary.
What is the difference between EBT and SNAP?
EBT and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are often used interchangeably, but they don’t actually mean the same thing.
SNAP benefits are food stamps, designed to pay for a household’s groceries and food. Your EBT card and account are how you access all of your benefits, including your SNAP money.
EBT is also used to access other benefits, like Family Assistance (FA), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or any pandemic benefits.
How Do I Check The Balance On My Pennsylvania EBT Card?
The simplest way to check your EBT card balance is to look at the amount left on your last receipt. As well as listing what you’ve bought and how much it cost, the receipt will also list how much money you have left in your account.
You can also call the customer service number on the back of your EBT card for an update on your balance.
Alternatively, you can check your balance online.
Step One: Type “Pennsylvania EBT balance” into a search bar. If you can, it’s a good idea to bookmark the site for easier access later. Click on the option entitled “Pennsylvania EBT”. Be sure to choose the EBT site designed for your state.
Step Two: This should take you directly to the EBT login page. You’ll be prompted to give your user ID and password. Once you’ve entered your details, you should be able to access your EBT balance and other details
Step Three (Optional): If you’re having difficulty with logging in, click the “Help?” option below the login button for extra information.
Step Four (Optional): If you’ve forgotten your user ID or password (it happens to the best of us!) Click the “Forgotten user ID/reset password” option. You’ll be prompted to add other details, including your social security number and your EBT card number.
Step Five (Optional): If you’re still having issues with logging in, or you want more EBT information, there is a list of frequently asked questions next to the login box. First-time users may have questions like, “What should I know about my SNAP account?” or, “How do I select a PIN?”
Logging onto your EBT account for the first time can be intimidating. However, after a couple of uses, you’ll get familiar with how to use your new benefits. Food stamps are a lifesaver for many families, both in Pennsylvania and all over the US.
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