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CLIENTS

Lone Star Card – Questions and Answers

SNAP is the new name for the Food Stamp program.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is cash benefits.

Lone Star Card - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

SNAP is the new name for the Food Stamp program.

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is cash benefits.

 

     

    What is the Lone Star Card?
    HHSC gives food (SNAP) and cash benefits (TANF) through the Lone Star Card. This is a plastic card that is used like a debit card. Each month, your approved monthly benefit amount is placed in the card's account.

    How do I get a Lone Star Card?
    You first have to apply and get approved for SNAP or TANF benefits. After you are approved, we will give you a card to use.

    To learn how to apply for benefits, visit www.hhsc.state.tx.us/help/index.shtml.

    What number do I call if I have questions about my Lone Star Card?
    Call the Lone Star Card Help Desk at 1-800-777-7328.

    Hearing impaired:     Help Desk  1-877-765-3458 (TDD)

                                Relay Texas  1-800-735-2989 (TTY)

     

    What number do I call if I have questions about my application or benefit amount?
    Call your local HHSC benefits office or 2-1-1.

     (back to top)

    Can I let someone else use my Lone Star Card to buy items for me?
    No. You are the only person who is allowed to use your card and PIN (password). It is illegal to let someone else use your card or benefits.

    Can someone else get a Lone Star Card so they can buy items for me?
    If you need someone else to help you buy things, you can ask for a second card to give to someone you trust. That person will need to create a PIN (password) for the second card. The money that person spends on the second card will come out of your card's account.

    You are the only person who can use your card and PIN. The person with the second card is the only person who can use the second card and PIN. It is illegal to let someone else use your card.

    How do I start using my Lone Star Card?
    When you get your Lone Star Card, follow these steps:

    1.  Sign the back of your card.

    2.  Register your card. (You can't use your card until you register it.)

    •  If you get your card in the mail:

       Call 1-800-777-7328 to register your card. You also will 

       choose your PIN* (password).

     

    •  If you pick up your card at an HHSC benefits office:

        Your card will be registered when you pick it up.

        Before you can use your card, you will need to call    

        1-800-777-7328 to choose your PIN*.

 * NOTE:  Do NOT write your PIN on your Lone Star Card.

              Do NOT keep your PIN with your Lone Star Card.

    When can I start using my Lone Star Card?
    You can use your card as soon as you have your PIN and your benefits are in your account. To make sure benefits are in your account, call 1-800-777-7328.

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    When are SNAP food benefits put into my account?
    SNAP benefits will be put into your account once a month. The last number in your SNAP Eligibility Determination Group (EDG) number tells what day you get your benefits. Look at the chart below: 

    FOOD BENEFITS SCHEDULE

    Last number of SNAP EDG number

    Day of month

    0

    1

    1

    3

    2

    5

    3

    6

    4

    7

    5

    9

    6

    11

    7

    12

    8

    13

    9

    15

    When are TANF cash benefits put into my account?
    TANF benefits will be put into your account once a month. The last number in your TANF Eligibility Determination Group (EDG) number tells what day you get your benefits. Look at the chart below:

    TANF BENEFIT SCHEDULE

    Last number of TANF EDG number

    Day of month

    0, 1, 2, 3

    1

    4, 5, 6

    2

    7, 8, 9

    3

     (back to top)

     

    What can I buy with my Lone Star Card?
     

    If you get food benefits:

    You can buy food, seeds and plants at stores approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The seeds and plants are used to grow food for your household to eat.

     

    You cannot use food benefits to buy:

              ○  Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco;

              ○  Any non-food items (For example, pet foods, soaps, paper

               products, and household supplies);

              ○  Vitamins and medicines;

              ○  Food that will be eaten in the store;

              ○  Hot foods.

              To learn more, click on the FNS logo:   FNS Link
     

    If you get TANF benefits:

     

    You can buy only goods and services your family needs at places that accept the Lone Star Card. You may make purchases or take out cash from your account to buy any items you need, such as:

     

              ○  Food

              ○  Clothes

              ○  Rent or Mortgage

              ○  Utilities (gas, water, electricity, etc.)

              ○  Furniture

              ○  Transportation (bus passes, gas, etc.)

              ○  Phone

              ○  Laundry

              ○  Equipment and supplies for the house (toilet paper, cleaning

               supplies, etc.)

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    Where can I use my Lone Star Card?
    You can use your card at any store that has a Lone Star Card sign. If you don't see it, ask a store worker.

    This is what the Lone Star Card sign looks like:

                                                                                  Lone Star Card

     

    Most large and medium-sized chain stores and many smaller stores that sell food items take the Lone Star Card.

     

    How do I buy food with my Lone Star Card?

    1.  Ask the store where you shop if they take the Lone  

         Star Card. Or go to stores that have the Lone Star

         Card signs. 

     

    2.  Shop for the items you need. Remember, you can buy

         only food with SNAP benefits.

     

    3.  When you check out, swipe your card through the

         machine.

     

    4.  Follow the directions on the machine. This will include

         typing in your PIN. Make sure other people can't see

         your PIN when you type it.

     

         NOTE: If you type in the wrong PIN, your Lone Star

         Card will not work. If you enter the wrong PIN too many

         times on the same day, your account will be put on

         hold. This means you can't use your card until you call

         1-800-777-7328.

     

    5.  If you don't have enough in your account, you won't be

         able to buy the food. If you have a TANF account, you

         can use your TANF benefits to help buy your food.

     

    6.  The machine will print out a receipt. Make sure the

         amount printed on the receipt matches the amount you

         spent. Keep the receipt with your card.

    (back to top)

    How do I use my Lone Star Card to take out cash?

    You can only get cash if you get TANF benefits. Follow these steps to get cash: 

    1.  Ask the store worker how much cash you can get with

         your card at one time. Some stores let you get all your

         cash at once. Other stores might let you get only a

         certain amount at one time.

     

         NOTE:  Some stores might charge a fee for taking out

         cash. To find out more about fees stores can charge,

         click on one of the following links:

           Fees (English and Spanish)

     

    2.  Follow directions on the machine. This will include typing

         in your PIN. Make sure other people can't see your PIN

         when you type it. The directions on the machine also

         will ask you how much you want to take out.

     

         NOTE: If you type in the wrong PIN, your Lone Star

         Card will not work. If you enter the wrong PIN too many

         times on the same day, your account will be put on

         hold. This means you can't use your card until you call

         1-800-777-7328.

     

    3.  If you have enough in your TANF account, the store

         worker will give you your money.

    Do I need to keep my receipts?
    Yes. Your receipts show how much you have left in your account (your balance). You will get a receipt every time you use the Lone Star Card.

    Always get your receipt from the cashier. Make sure the amount printed on the receipt matches the amount you spent or withdrew.

    Keep your receipts in case there are questions about your balance. You should keep your last receipt with your Lone Star Card.

    If you have a question about a purchase or balance, show your receipt to the store manager.

    (back to top)

    How can I check my balance?
    Your last receipt will show your balance.

    If you lose your last receipt, call 1-800-777-7328.

    Always check your balance before you go to the store.

    What do I do if I think my account balance is wrong?
    Call 1-800-777-7328 and let us know.

    We will send you a letter to let you know the outcome of our review.

    Remember, always keep your receipts in case there are questions about your balance.

    What if my Lone Star Card is lost, stolen or doesn't work?
    Call the Lone Star Help Desk right away at 1-800-777-7328.

    Your card will be "frozen". This means that no one - not even you - can use your card.

    If you need a new card, we will mail you one. You'll get it in about a week.

    If someone steals your benefits before you call us at 1-800-777-7328, you lose those benefits. The only way someone can steal your benefits is if they have your card and know your PIN (password).

    (back to top)

    What if I forget my PIN (password)?
    Call the Lone Star Help Desk at 1-800-777-7328 right away.

    You can pick your new PIN by calling any time, day or night.

    Getting a new PIN makes the old one not work anymore. If you are unable to pick a PIN by phone, you can ask us to send you a new PIN in the mail. You'll get it in about a week.

    Can I use my Lone Star Card if a store's machine isn't working?
    Yes. The cashier will call to see if you have enough benefits in your account.

    You will not get a receipt from the machine. Instead, the cashier will fill out a paper voucher for you to sign. Make sure you get a copy of the voucher for your records.

    What if I don't use all my benefits in one month?
    You won't lose your benefits if you don't use them all in one month. Benefits that you don't use stay in your account. The next time benefits are put into your account, they are added to what is still in there.

    (back to top)

    What if I need to use my benefits outside of Texas?
    Call your local HHSC benefits office before you leave Texas. Let the worker know you will need to use your card outside of Texas.

    Take your Lone Star Card with you.

    If you get SNAP benefits:

         You should be able to use your card at stores that

         take food benefits in other states. If it doesn't work, call            

         1-800-777-7328.

    If you get TANF benefits:

         You should be able to use your card at stores that
         accept cash benefits in other states. To be safe, withdraw your

         money from your cash account before you leave.

     

         Before shopping at a store, find out if the store charges a fee and

         how much the fee is.

     

         If your card doesn't work, call 1-800-777-7328.

    How do I report a store or person that I think is using food or cash benefits illegally (committing fraud)?
    Call the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-436-6184 or email LoneStar@hhsc.state.tx.us

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Updated:  Wednesday, October 12, 2011
  

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