Office of Communications
For more information contact:

Joseph Thornton, Media Coordinator/Public Information Specialist
Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs
West Virginia Department of health and Human Resources
Phone: 304-558-7899 Fax: 304-558-7075
Cell: 304-546-7960 e-mail: josephthornton@wvdhhr.org

For immediate release

EBT card goes statewide May 1

With the implementation of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card in northeastern West Virginia as of May 1, 2003, the entire state will have been switched to EBT for the delivery of food stamps and WV WORKS monthly cash assistance benefits.

EBT is the conversion from benefit delivery by mail to an electronic one which uses a magnetic stripe debit card called the "Mountain State Card." In most instances, West Virginia retailers that are approved by Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to accept food stamps will use Point of Sale (POS) equipment or manual vouchers to process the card.

"The change to EBT has been a smooth one due in part to the many advantages the system provides," said Fred Boothe, commissioner, Bureau for Children and Families. "The recipients of the benefits will experience more timely access to benefits because they no longer have to wait for the mail in order to receive them."

Benefits are less likely to be lost or stolen because the Mountain State Card is protected by a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Retailers and banks will eventually no longer have to sort and mail coupons and will receive settlement faster than with paper food stamp coupons, usually within two days of the transaction.

The Department of Health and Human Resources staff has also worked to promote the option of direct deposit of monthly WV WORKS benefits. All individuals who receive WV WORKS monthly benefits who have not enrolled for direct deposit with a financial institution of choice will have the monthly cash benefit placed on the EBT card. Direct deposit of cash benefits is beneficial because the individual gets to choose the financial institution and the method he or she uses to spend the cash benefits. Those clients interested in direct deposit of monthly WV WORKS benefits may obtain the direct deposit enrollment form from their local DHHR Office.

Food stamp benefits are not subject to direct deposit. With the change to EBT, food stamp coupons will no longer be issued and there will be no cash back for EBT food stamp purchases. Only the amount of the allowable food items will be deducted from the food stamp account. This change also promotes the use of all the food stamp benefits for United States Department of Agriculture approved food items. Food stamp benefits can never be accessed through an ATM. For additional information about West Virginia’s EBT project, contact the West Virginia DHHR EBT Project Office number 304-558-4126 or visit the website containing information about EBT with details about the West Virginia project. The web site address is, www.wvdhhr.org/ebt.

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