EBT food stamps (now known as SNAP benefits) are a staple in many American households. Like most governmentally issued benefits, EBT comes with plenty of rules and regulations.
If you’re new to using EBT, or you’ve moved to a different state, you might wonder how to use your benefits. What is EBT, and what is it used for? How can you check your balance? What happens if you overspend?
Let’s discuss a few common concerns about using EBT in states like Iowa.
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Table Of Contents:
- What Is EBT?
- Frequently Asked EBT Questions
- How to Check Your EBT Balance in Iowa
- The Bottom Line
- Need Burial Insurance?
What Is EBT?
EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is a blanket term for all electronically issued benefits. For example, it’s most commonly used for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which has replaced the old-fashioned food stamps coupons.
You’ll be given a plastic EBT card, like a credit or debit card, which you can use online or in stores to access your balance.
It’s important to keep an eye on your balance, and know exactly how much of your benefits you have for its intended purpose. For example, you can only use your SNAP benefits to buy food – and not all food is included in SNAP benefits.
Here’s what you can buy with EBT/SNAP benefits:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Seeds (to grow plants at home)
- Grains, bread, and cereals
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and other seafood
- Dairy (milk, cheese, etc)
- Snack foods (such as ice cream, chips, candy, etc)
In short, most foods are covered by your SNAP benefits. The program is intended to provide extra food and nutrients to low-income American families, so it’s in your best interests to buy supplies for healthy, delicious meals.
Here’s what you can’t buy with EBT/SNAP benefits:
- Pet food (sorry, but the beloved family dog isn’t covered by SNAP benefits!)
- Medicines and vitamins (some energy drinks are classed as “vitamins”, so be careful before you buy)
- Household supplies, such as paper goods, hygiene and grooming products, or cleaning products
- Tobacco products
- Gambling/lottery tickets
- Hot food, prepared and designed to be eaten immediately
- Restaurant food
While it’s obvious that alcohol and tobacco won’t be covered by SNAP benefits, essential non-food items (such as hygiene supplies and medicines) also aren’t covered. If you try to use your EBT to buy a non-approved item, your card will likely be declined, or you’ll have to pay for the item yourself later.
Frequently Asked EBT Questions
New EBT users often end up asking the same kind of questions. One of the most commonly asked questions involves P EBT or Pandemic EBT.
- Can I get P EBT in Iowa?
P EBT (Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer) is an additional benefit for children and students already eligible for reduced-price or free school meals. During the recent pandemic, most schools have been closed, so children haven’t been able to get this benefit.
So, P EBT is an extra amount for eligible children to replace the nutrition they would get at school. P EBT is available all over the US, including Iowa. If you haven’t received your benefits, or you aren’t sure whether your child is eligible, check out this website.
- Is P EBT a one-time thing?
P EBT is a one-time food benefit for children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. In families that already qualify for EBT/SNAP benefits, P EBT should have been automatically added to the family’s benefits.
The payment is a one-time payment of approximately $260.50. If you don’t use your benefits in one month, your balance will roll onto the next month. However, P EBT needs to be used within 365 days.
- Do food stamps roll over to the next month?
Yes, food stamps do roll over to the next month. This means that if you don’t use your benefits up in one month, you can have a little extra to spend next month.
- Can I use my EBT online in Iowa?
EBT cards can be used online everywhere, including Iowa. During the recent pandemic, many families have turned to online shopping as a safer and easier option.
However, not every store accepts EBT cards. Some stores will accept EBT cards in-store, but not online. Costco, for instance, will accept EBT cards alongside a Costco membership, but not for online shopping.
How To Check Your EBT Balance In Iowa
EBT cards aren’t like debit or credit cards – you won’t get overdrawn if you spend too much. Unfortunately, this can lead to an embarrassing incident at the checkout as your EBT card is declined.
So, it’s best to keep an eye on your EBT balance. The simplest way to keep track of your spending is to keep your receipts. Aside from detailing how much you’ve spent and what you’ve bought, your receipt should include your closing EBT balance.
You can also check your EBT balance online, quickly and easily.
- Step One: Start by visiting this website. This will take you directly to the EBT login page. Once you’re there, you’ll be prompted to enter your user ID and password. Once you’ve entered your details, you can access your account and view your balance.
- Step Two (Optional): If you’re having difficulty signing into your account, click the “Help?” option below the login button. This will open a handy help box.
- Step Three (Optional): If you’ve forgotten your user ID, click the “Forgot User ID” button below the login box. Then you’ll be given options to recover your user ID, using some of your personal details.
- Step Four (Optional): If you’ve forgotten your password, click the “Forgot Password” option below the login box. This will take you to another screen where you can use some of your details to reset your password and create a new one.
- Step Five (Optional): If this is your first time using EBT, you’ll need to create a new account. Click the “Create New Account” option below the login box, and follow the instructions given.
The Bottom Line
Using EBT may be a little challenging at first. However, it’s a lifesaver for millions of low-income American families. Once you’ve got the hang of using the website and checking your balance, you’ll be able to easily access your balance and use your benefits.
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