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How do I get an EBT card in California?

The card that is used for food stamp payments is free to apply for and easy to get, as long as your household is under certain income limits.

Update:
California has announced historic increases to CalFresh benefit amounts.
Chris McGrathGetty Images

In California Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are known as the Golden State Advantage (GSA) card. This is the way for Californians to access things like food stamps and other programmes that are distributed by the state. The cards are in place so the benefits are not spent on items like alcohol or cigarettes.

Getting a card is quite easy, you need to call 1-877-847-3663, find your local county office, or apply online through GetCalFresh.org.

What is the eligibility criteria?

The state of California requires you to submit information on two fronts: household size and income. Both aspects work alongside each other, insofar as the income relative to the household size needs to be under a certain threshold.

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To calculate this, all your sources of income for a month, including things like Social Security payments and wages, are added together and then divided by how many people live in your household. Once your gross monthly income has been worked out, you then need to work out your net monthly income. This is the same iCalifornia has an indepth breakdown of the various deductions available for Californians applying for the programme.

If your gross and net income is lower than 200 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level, then you will be eligible to receive an EBT card.

If you think you may be eligible then it is worth applying; it can be done freely online here.

How do EBT cards work?

Recipients of SNAP benefits will be issued with a card, similar to a debit card, with which they can pay for foodstuffs. The card system replaced the old coloured paper food stamps previously employed by nutrition assistance initiatives and can be used at ATM machines and point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

EBT is primarily used to distribute SNAP benefits and has been the only method for recipients to get the support since 2004. The card means that recipients can only use the card on qualifying foodstuffs, preventing fraud or other financial mismanagement.

As well as SNAP, EBT is also being used (or being tested for use) for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), and other more general assistance programmes in certain states.

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