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Frequently Asked Questions for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Food Benefits

Answers to many commonly asked questions about the P-EBT food benefits for New York State residents:

What are P-EBT food benefits?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorized the payment of P-EBT food benefits to households with children who would have received free school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a school closure. These temporary food benefits were to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school from March through June during the 2019-2020 school year. All children who were eligible for P-EBT food benefits for the days school was closed due to COVID-19 during the months of March, April, May, and June 2020 have already received their P-EBT food benefits.

When did qualified child/children receive P-EBT food benefits for the 2019-2020 school year?
  1. Families with children ages 5 through 18 who received either SNAP or TA (Cash) benefits for March 2020 received their P-EBT food benefits in May and June 2020.
  2. Most families with children ages 3-18 who get Medicaid AND who received free school lunches received their P-EBT food benefits on a Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) in July 2020.
  3. All other families with children eligible for P-EBT food benefits received a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card for each of their eligible children sometime between September and December 2020.
How will I receive P-EBT food benefits for my qualified child/children?

The P-EBT food benefits for the 2019-2020 school year were loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card:

  • The P-EBT food benefits were issued directly to your household’s existing EBT card and added to your SNAP balance. You can check your family’s SNAP/P-EBT food benefits balance (but not your eligibility for P-EBT food benefits) by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399. Call center agents at this number can only answer questions about your SNAP balance. They do not have information about P-EBT food benefits and cannot answer any questions about whether you are eligible and when you will receive them.
  • Most families with children who receive Medicaid, who are between the ages of 3 and 18 and who are eligible for P-EBT food benefits had their P-EBT food benefits issued either to the CBIC of the parent or to the CBIC of the oldest child in the household who received free or reduced-price school lunches. Households with children in this group received a letter in July 2020 telling them how to access their P-EBT food benefits using their Medicaid CBIC.
  • The parents/guardians of eligible children who did not receive their P-EBT food benefits on a SNAP, TA (Cash) or Medicaid card should have already received a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card in the mail for each eligible child in their household. These cards were mailed in each school-aged child’s name, not a parent’s or guardian’s name. A picture of what the P-EBT 2020 food benefit card looks like is included below. Eligible children received their P-EBT 2020 food benefit cards, including instructions on how to use them, sometime between September and December.
  • Once your benefits have been used, please be sure to keep this card in the event your child’s P-EBT food benefits are issued to this card for the 2020-2021 school year.
    • Please note, that all P-EBT 2020 food benefit cards will have an ID number that starts with the letter "I" and a generic birthdate of 01/01/1900.
P-EBT card example
Example of a P-EBT card. All P-EBT cards will have an ID number that starts with the letter "I". All P-EBT cards will have a 01/01/1900 DOB.
How do I use P-EBT food benefits if they are on a Medicaid Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC)?

To access your P-EBT food benefits using your CBIC, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

How do I reorder a replacement NYS Medicaid Card or Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC)?

If your child receives Medicaid through your local department of social services, you can order a replacement Medicaid Card by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the cardholder’s date of birth and social security number.

If your child receives Medicaid through the New York State of Health: Health Plan Marketplace, you can re-order a replacement CBIC by calling 1-855-355-5777. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the account holder’s name, social security number, account number or health care exchange identification number.

How do I use P-EBT food benefits if they are on a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card?

When you receive your P-EBT 2020 food benefit card in the mail, you will also receive information about how to select a PIN. It is important that you follow the directions for selecting a PIN to be able to access P-EBT food benefits. To access your P-EBT food benefits using a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card, you must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Once your benefits have been used, please be sure to keep this card in the event P-EBT food benefits are reissued in the future.

How do I reorder a Replacement P-EBT 2020 Food Benefit card?

You can order a replacement P-EBT 2020 Food Benefit card by calling 1-888-328-6399. Please be prepared to provide security information, including the 16-digit card number that was printed on the front of the P-EBT 2020 food benefit card you are replacing. If you do not have that number, you will be asked for the card holder’s social security number; however, when ordering a replacement P-EBT 2020 Food Benefit card (and only when ordering a P-EBT 2020 Food Benefit card), you must enter 999-99 and then the 2-digit month and 2-digit day (MM/DD) of the cardholder’s birthday. For example, if your child’s date of birth is July 4, you would enter 999-99-0704 when asked for his/her social security number. You will then be asked to enter the 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) you selected for the P-EBT food benefit card that you are replacing. If you did not create a PIN, you will still be able to order a replacement card by following the prompts.

How do I use an EBT/NYS Medicaid CBIC or P-EBT 2020 food benefit card?

An EBT card looks and is used like a bank debit card to buy food at authorized retail food stores. For more information on how to use an EBT card visit: http://otda.ny.gov/workingfamilies/ebt/.

To find authorized retail food stores near you, the SNAP Retailer Locator can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailer-locator.

What can I purchase with my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits?

P-EBT food benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. A detailed list of food items that may be purchased with the benefits can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items/.

Will I need to pay back my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits?

No. Families who receive P-EBT food benefits will not have to pay back the benefits.

Do I have to use my child/children’s P-EBT food benefits right away?

No. P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your NYS Medicaid CBIC or P-EBT 2020 food benefit card for up to one year from the date they are issued. You can check your family’s P-EBT food benefits balance by visiting www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

Will receiving P-EBT food benefits impact my family’s ‘public charge’ status?

Receiving P-EBT food benefits will not affect the ‘public charge’ status for non-citizen households.

Should I contact my local department of social services if I have any questions about P-EBT food benefits?

No. P-EBT food benefits are being issued by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. They are not SNAP benefits, and your local department of social services has no information about your eligibility for these benefits, and no information about when you will receive these benefits if you are eligible.

Do my homeschooled child/children qualify for P-EBT food benefits?

Only children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school are eligible for P-EBT food benefits. Households with homeschooled children do not usually receive free or reduced-priced school lunches and therefore are not be eligible for P-EBT food benefits. Please contact your school district with questions concerning access to the free or reduced-priced school lunch program.

What if I get P-EBT food benefits for my children but do not want or need the benefits? Can I give them to somebody who does need them or donate them to my local food bank?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has advised that P-EBT food benefits are not transferable and cannot be donated. The P-EBT food benefits are intended for you to use to buy food for you and your child[ren]. USDA advises that if you and your family have received a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card and do not want to use the benefits to buy food, you should dispose of the card by cutting through the magnetic stripe on the card or shredding the card and discarding it in a secure manner. If your child(ren)’s P-EBT food benefits were issued to a NYS Medicaid CBIC do NOT dispose of the card—you are required to keep this card while enrolled in Medicaid.

P-EBT food benefits will remain available and accessible on your NYS Medicaid CBIC or P-EBT 2020 food benefit card for up to one year from the date they are issued.

We appreciate your interest in supporting the nutrition needs of those in your community during these difficult times. In most communities there are a number of nonprofit organizations that accept donations—including donations of non-perishable food items and/or donations of money they can use to buy food—to help those in your community who do not have enough food. For more information please visit: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/food-pantries.

Are there other food benefits or programs besides P-EBT food benefits that can help my family?

Yes. If your family does not already receive SNAP, you can see if you are eligible for and apply for SNAP by visiting mybenefits.ny.gov.

To locate a food pantry in your area visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/food-pantries

To find a location where you can pick up free meals for your child/children:

  • Visit the USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids
  • Text “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877
  • Call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-3-HAMBRE (Spanish)
  • Call 211 for New York State Residents
  • Call 311 if you live in New York City
Where do I go if I have questions about P-EBT food benefits?

If you have questions, you may call the P-EBT Food Benefits Helpline: 1-833-452-0096 or visit: P-EBT Information Form.

Print the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Food Benefits FAQs.

Imprimir Preguntas Frecuentes sobre los Subsidios de Transferencia Electrónica de Beneficios a Raíz de la Pandemia (P-EBT, por sus siglas en inglés).

Last updated: December 9, 2020, 4:00 PM

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