published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
EBT system crashes for six hours
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Users of Florida Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards ran into problems Friday when technical issues at the contracting agency running the program shut down the system from 7 a.m. to about 1 p.m. throughout Florida and several other states.
The state's EBT program is run by JPMorgan Chase. The technical issues originated with the company and were national in scope.
During the time the system was down, EBT card holders were not able to use their cards for normal processing at grocery, convenience and other stores.
According to DCF, stores may process amounts up to $40 manually and Walmart stores have the ability to manually process manual transactions of up to $100.
EBT cards replaced paper coupon food stamps in Florida in 2008 and are used like a bank debit card.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, which is administered by the state.
In Florida, the overseeing agency is the Department of Children and Families.
EBT cards also are used to distribute Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) to needy families.
That is a separate program from food assistance.
Money is deposited into each EBT account monthly for either or both assistance programs.
According to DCF, recipients must be citizens or approved by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service, must have a job or be actively looking for one, agree to cooperate with child support enforcement and be a Florida resident.
Nutritional assistance may only be used to buy food. It may not be used to buy prepared items like grocery store sandwiches or at restaurants.
It may not be used to buy cleaning supplies, paper products, clothes, tobacco or alcohol.
Temporary cash assistance is only distributed to families with children under 18, or until 19 if a full-time student in high school.
Payments are distributed by the number and age of the children.
Benefit amounts depend on the size of the family and their income and assets.
To qualify, a family's countable assets must be under $2,000. If cars are needed to get to work they may not exceed a combined value of $8,500. Payments depend on countable income. For example, if a family has no income or assets a monthly payment for children between infancy and five is $242 per child; children between six and 12 are $249; and children 13 through 17 are $298. Children of school age must attend full-time and parents must attend parent-teacher conferences.
Elderly individuals who are indigent or disabled may receive a monthly payment to pay for an assisted facility provider.
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