Electronic Benefit Transfer or EBT is a system for delivering SNAP and Families First benefits to eligible Tennesseans. The EBT system does not affect the determination of eligibility for these programs or the level of benefits that customers receive. It is simply a method of delivering the benefits. The issuance of SNAP and Families First benefits to Tennesseans is performed through the Electronic Benefit Transfer process.
Electronic Benefit Transfer is an online system in which SNAP and cash assistance benefits are stored in a central computer database and electronically accessed by customers at a point-of-sale machine via reusable plastic cards. In Tennessee, these EBT cards are called Benefit Security Cards.
Tennessee's EBT program began in November 1998 with a pilot project involving four counties. The program was then implemented over a period of several months, with full implementation of EBT completed in August 1999. There are many advantages to Tennessee having an EBT system. Food coupons and paper checks are no longer issued and accounted for on a monthly basis. The EBT issuance process is streamlined, safe, and convenient. Other advantages of the EBT process include the following:
Allowing the DHS offices to expedite services and changes
Eliminating customers' monthly trips to the office or waiting on the postman
Automating the delivery process
Helping to eliminate fraud and misuse of benefits
Saving taxpayers' money.
ATTENTION FAMILIES FIRST RECIPIENTS: Under Federal law, it is illegal for you to use your EBT card at the following locations: liquor stores, casinos, adult cabarets (strip clubs), and licensed retail stores that derive their largest sales from the following items:
- loose tobacco
- cigars, cigarettes, and pipes
- other smoking accessories
The Tennessee Department of Human Services has increased monitoring EBT card usage and enforcement. Effective July 1, 2014, additional penalties will apply if benefits are misused. Restricted businesses are also subject to penalties.
VIDEO: Your Tennessee EBT Card
EBT Customer Service : 1-888-997-9444
EBT Merchant Service: 1-800-350-8533
Family Assistance Service Center: Toll-Free 1-866-311-4287 or 615-743-2000