The New York (“NY”) State Electronic Benefit Transfer (“EBT”) program allows the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to provide cash payments and food stamp vouchers to deserving low income New York residents.  The EBT NY system, by almost any welfare definition, is considered to be a form of welfare assistance.   Many times EBT NY recipients also qualify for, or are already receiving, NY unemployment benefits through the NY Dept of Labor.

After someone has qualified for the EBT NY program, any cash and food stamp payments the individual is entitled to receive will be credited to that individual’s “electronic benefits account”.  The welfare recipient can then draw down on the cash inside the electronic benefits account by making purchases with a “Common Benefit Identification Card”.  The Common Identification Card is almost identical in look and usage to a traditional debit card.  You must use a Personal Identification Number (“PIN”) to spend the funds inside your electronic benefits account and can access cash through a traditional ATM machine.  The money given to you can be spent anywhere in the United States and there are also no limitations on removing cash from ATM machines either.

Help With Your EBT NY Card

If you are unsure of how to use your EBT NY card or run into any other type of problem, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has set up a toll-free hotline you can call any time of day or night to get help.  The number is 1-888-328-6399.  After you call you will go through an automated phone system that will guide you to solving your problem.  Among the common problems or information this phone number can help you figure out are:

  • How to check the balance of your electronic benefits account
  • How to notify the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance of suspected fraud on your account
  • How to report a Common Identification Card that has become lost, damaged or stolen
  • How to change your PIN number

The help through the EBT NY’s toll free hotline is provided in both English and Spanish.

Using Your EBT NY Card

There are a few important things to remember as you use your EBT NY card.  First, protect your PIN number just as you would the PIN for your traditional debit card.  Never give this number out to anyone!  Be sure to sign the back of your card and avoid marking on the black strip at the top of the card.  Keep the card away from magnets to help ensure that it works properly and double check that the “Quest®” trademark is on the card to ensure that the card is legitimate.

In addition to checking your electronic benefits account balance through the EBT NY toll free hotline, you can also do free balance inquiries any time you purchase an item at a local store or at a traditional ATM machine.  The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has also created a website for you to check your balance online.  The site is ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com.

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