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EBT Program

Electronic Benefits Transfer Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

History - Texas EBT

System Overview

    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 administrative staff.

    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.


Updated: Thursday, November 18, 2010


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