The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. In New York State, the P-EBT program provides a food supplement to cover the cost of meals children would otherwise have received at school. Benefits were originally issued for March through June, months in which schools were closed due to COVID-19 during the 2019-20 school year.
Subsequently the U.S. Congress passed a continuing resolution appropriations bill that provides an additional $8 billion for nutrition benefits. The bill extended Pandemic-EBT through September 2021, with each school-aged child receiving a one-time benefit of $420. It also expanded the program to include younger children who might have received meals at daycare programs that are closed or operating on reduced hours.
To qualify, households must have children in the household who would be eligible to receive free and/or reduced-priced meals. Qualifying households do not apply for the P-EBT program, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) administers the benefits, and automatically issues benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, typically the household’s Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC).
Description of P-EBT
SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN
P-EBT benefits are NOT SNAP benefits. They are a temporary food supplement benefits that are issued to households with school-aged children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals, whether they are learning remotely or at school. P-EBT benefits are extended through September 30, 2021.
P-EBT food benefits can be used to purchase unprepared food at participating supermarkets and bodegas that accept EBT transactions. 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, which is the same as a household can purchase for SNAP benefits.
P-EBT food benefits remain available and accessible on the EBT card for up to one year from the date they are issued. Households in NYS may check their EBT balance by visiting https://www.connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
Households with questions about their P-EBT food benefits or who have not received the P-EBT food benefit should visit P-EBT Contact Form.
On January 22, 2021 the USDA announced plans to address food insecurity during the COVID crisis. Part of the plan will increase the one-time benefit of $420 per school aged child by approximately 15% per child. More details will be forthcoming.
Households with a Cash Assistance, SNAP or Medicaid CBIC Card
Households are not required to apply for P-EBT benefits. P-EBT funds are automatically added to a household’s Cash Assistance and/or SNAP Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC) card (also known as a EBT card) or the Medicaid card of the parent (or the Medicaid card of the oldest child in their households qualifies), if not in receipt of Cash Assistance or SNAP benefits.
When accessing P-EBT food benefits households must input their Personal Identification Number (PIN). Households without a PIN should select one via the phone by calling 1-888-328-6399. They should be prepared to provide security information, including the household’s zip code and the last four digits of the cardholder’s social security number, to complete this process.
Because the State uses client data collected by HRA to confirm addresses, Medicaid clients who have lost their CBIC cards and have a change of address should contact the Medicaid helpline to update their contact information at 888-692-6116 or e-mail at email@example.com .
While HRA does not have any role in the distribution of P-EBT benefits, all addresses should always be up-to-date in their systems in order to help facilitate the State’s distribution of P-EBT.
Households without a CBIC Card
Benefits cards received for the school year ending in June 2020 will be loaded with the benefits for the current 2020/21 school year. Once all benefits have been used, households should retain the card in the event P-EBT food benefits are issued in the future.
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. To access P-EBT food benefits using a P-EBT 2020 food benefit card, households must have a Personal Identification Number (PIN). When the household receives the child’s P-EBT 2020 food benefit card, they will also receive information about how to select a PIN. They can select a PIN by calling 1-888-328-6399. They should be prepared to provide security information, including their zip code and the month and day of the cardholder’s birthday to complete this process.
Qualifying for P-EBT
Families of non-public school students should contact the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to learn if they are eligible.
- Students who are enrolled in public schools and on-public schools where free lunch is provided as part of the National School Lunch Program.
- Households must have children in the household who would be eligible to receive free and/or reduced-priced meals. This includes:
- All children attending Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools where all children attending public schools in the district received free or reduced-price school lunches.
- Children who attend private, parochial and charter schools and who received free school lunches.
- Three and four-year old children attending Universal Pre-Kindergarten and who received free school lunches.
- Young adults ages 19 to 21 who are still in school and who received free school lunches.
- Foster children who received free school lunches.
- There are no immigration criteria.
- P-EBT is not counted as a public charge.
Applying for P-EBT
There is no application for the P-EBT program. The State will identify households and issue benefits automatically.
How P-EBT Coordinates with Other Food Programs
There is no impact to households who receive any other food assistance including WIC, SNAP, SNAP Emergency Allotment supplements or Grab and Go meals from the Department of Education.
There are no SNAP reporting requirements for P-EBT benefits.
OTDA is providing a P-EBT helpline at 833-452-0096, available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm. the NYS P-EBT Helpline, as well as contact via e-mail at e-mail otda.sm.eisp.PEBT@otda.ny.gov .
Professionals may also use the e-mail on behalf of clients; they should indicate “Advocate Inquiry” on the subject line to facilitate routing of the inquiry to expedite the response.
- New York State P-EBT helpline 833-452-0096 or email at email at otda.sm.eisp.PEBT@otda.ny.gov for additional questions.
- P-EBT flyer available in 7 languages, as well as recording on information session: https://www.communityfoodadvocatesnyc.org/p-ebt?blm_aid=10357773.
- FAQ’s: https://otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19/Frequently-Asked-Questions-Pandemic-EBT.asp.
- FRAC Resource Library: https://frac.org/research/resource-library/pandemic-ebt.