The Texas Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system delivers Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefit services and Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits to Texas recipients. This mission-critical function of the
Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) provides more than two million Texas
clients with easy access to the benefits they need to enable them to
purchase basic essentials.
Eligibility determination staff in approximately
320 state offices use a
web-based administrative program to issue Lone Star
cards and help with other EBT activities. Texas clients can access their benefits in more than 16,300
participating retail locations across the State.
For clients, the process to access their benefits is simple. The Lone Star card is scanned/swiped for payment
in a manner that is similar to a commercial debit card payment process.
After swiping the Lone Star card, a
client must enter his or her personal identification number (PIN), which
protects the card from use by unauthorized people. The transaction is
carried from the point-of-sale (POS) device at the retailer location through a third-party
processor's network to the Texas EBT host system. The Texas EBT system then locates that
client's benefits, records the purchase, and reduces the client's available
benefit balance by the amount of the purchase. A response authorizing the purchase is generated and
returned to the POS device in a matter of seconds.
All EBT transactions for purchases on a given day and any adjustments
that are received during the day are totaled and financial reports are
created for use by the third-party processors (TPPs), as well as by HHSC
The purchase amount is processed that night, transferring funds from federal and state
sources to the third-party processors. The processors then transmit payment
to the individual retailers. Quite an improvement over the paper system,
under which payments could take up to six weeks to process!
EBT operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with its primary goal remaining that of
consistent, rapid issuance and safe, simple, continuous access to benefits for Texas citizens.
Additional information about the
history of EBT in Texas is available on this website.