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COVID-19 UPDATES

Pandemic-EBT: Food Benefits for Families

Update, October 14, 2020:
New York State continues to mail P-EBT cards to eligible families. Cards should arrive in October. If you have not gotten benefits yet, please continue to check your mail.

  • If your eligible child has not received benefits by the end of October, contact the NYS P-EBT hotline at 1-833-452-0096 or use the P-EBT contact form.
  • Most – but not all – eligible families with SNAP or Medicaid have received P-EBT benefits on their EBT or Medicaid (CBIC) cards. See the FAQs below for more information, including how to check your card balance for P-EBT benefits.

P-EBT Benefits for the 2020-21 School Year

OTDA is waiting for guidance from the USDA to issue P-EBT benefits for the 2020-21 school year. Eligible families should not expect to receive benefits for the 2020-21 school year until January 2021, at the earliest. Check back here for updates, or visit the NYS PEBT webpage.

P-EBT is a new program that gives $420 in food benefits to each child who lost access to free or reduced-price school meals because of COVID-19 school closures in the 2019-2020 school year.

P-EBT benefits will be issued automatically by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYSOTDA).

Eligible families will get their P-EBT benefit in different ways, depending on their situation:

  • Most families with SNAP or Public Assistance (PA): benefits were added to your current EBT card in June. These families will not receive anything in the mail about P-EBT, and should check their card balance for the benefit.
  • Most families with Medicaid (but not SNAP): benefits were added to your (or your oldest child’s) Medicaid (CBIC) card between June and August. NYSOTDA mailed letters to these families with instructions to activate their Medicaid card.
  • All other eligible families: benefits are being mailed to you on a new P-EBT card in September. Your card will come with a letter from NYSOTDA with instructions to activate and use the card.

Quick Facts

  • There is no application process. Benefits will be issued automatically.
  • P-EBT does not replace school meals, SNAP or WIC.
  • Using P-EBT does not impact a parent, guardian or a child’s immigration status and the public charge rule does NOT apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have not received my benefits. What should I do?

I haven’t received my P-EBT card yet.

P-EBT cards are being mailed through September. Please watch your mail for a P-EBT card – like the one pictured below – for each eligible child. Your card will come with instructions to activate the card. Please read the letter carefully. Be sure not to mistake these for junk mail. Do not throw them away.

P-EBT card envelopeP-EBT card image

  • All P-EBT 2020 food benefit cards will have an ID number that starts with the letter “I” and a generic birth date of 01/01/1900.
  • Once your benefits have been used, please keep this card in case P-EBT food benefits are issued again in the future. Note: at this time, P-EBT is a one-time benefit.

If your child received Medicaid or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) as of March 2020, their P-EBT benefits may have been issued already. See “I receive SNAP or Medicaid, but I have not received P-EBT benefits yet” in this section.

I receive SNAP or Medicaid, but I have not received P-EBT benefits yet.

Benefits may be on your SNAP or Medicaid card already:

  • Families with SNAP: Please check your EBT card deposit history on connectebt.com to see if you already received the benefit. Look for two payments in May or June totaling $420 per eligible child (for example, a payment for $193, and a payment for $227). Note: Children receiving P-EBT benefits on a SNAP card will not get a letter in the mail about P-EBT.
  • Families with Medicaid: P-EBT benefits may be on the Medicaid (CBIC) card for the head of household OR the oldest eligible child. Click here for instructions to check the card balance.

Some children with SNAP or Medicaid will get P-EBT benefits on a new P-EBT card in September. This may happen if:

  • Your child was age 3-4 or age 19-21 in March 2020.
  • Your child receives Social Security Disability Assistance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • You started receiving SNAP or Medicaid after March 2020, but your child got free or reduced-price school meals in March 2020.
  • You fill out a school meals application in order to receive free or reduced-price school meals, even though you receive Medicaid.
  • Your child would not ordinarily qualify for free school meals, but your school offers free meals to all.

Please watch your mail carefully for a P-EBT card and notice.

Note: Families receiving P-EBT benefits on their Medicaid card should have received a letter from NYSOTDA in July or August with instructions to activate the card. If you did not receive a letter, but P-EBT benefits are on your Medicaid card, your letter may have been returned to NYSOTDA. Please be sure your address is updated with your local Medicaid office so you receive any future mailings.

Using your card and benefits

How do I activate my P-EBT card?

To activate your P-EBT card and use your benefits, you must call the EBT customer service hotline (1-888-328-6399) to select a personal identification number – or PIN. For detailed instructions, visit:

IMPORTANT: When setting up the PIN, you will be asked to enter the last four digits of the cardholder’s Social Security Number. DO NOT enter the last four digits of the child’s Social Security Number. Instead, you must enter the four-digits representing the month and day (MM/DD) of the child’s birth. For example, if the child’s birthday is July 4, enter 0704.

How do I activate my Medicaid card for P-EBT?

To access P-EBT benefits on your Medicaid (CBIC) card, you must call the EBT customer service hotline (1-888-328-6399) to select a personal identification number – or PIN. For detailed instructions, visit:

If you get the message “invalid card number”:

  • Be sure you are entering the correct card number. P-EBT benefits may be on the Medicaid card of the head of household or the oldest child in your household who is certified for free or reduced-price school lunch. If you received a letter about P-EBT benefits, pay attention to who the letter is addressed to – this will tell you whose card will be loaded with benefits.
  • Be sure you are using your New York State Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC), not a different card you use for health care services (for example, a Fidelis ID card).

Still having trouble?

  • Have you received SNAP benefits (food stamps) in the past? If you set a PIN for your card in the past – even if you are not currently receiving SNAP benefits – your old PIN may still work. Try checking your balance using your card number and your old PIN; you can check your balance on connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.
  • If you are still unable to set up your Medicaid card or access your P-EBT benefits, call the P-EBT helpline for assistance: 1-833-452-0096

Note: Families receiving P-EBT benefits on their Medicaid card should have received a letter from NYSOTDA in July or August with instructions to activate the card. If you did not receive a letter stating the benefits will be on a Medicaid card, and your card balance is $0 or “invalid,” you may be receiving benefits on a new P-EBT card in the mail in September. See “I receive SNAP or Medicaid, but I have not received a letter about P-EBT benefits yet” to learn more. If you did not receive a letter, but P-EBT benefits are on your Medicaid card, your letter may have been returned to NYSOTDA. Please be sure your address is updated with your local Medicaid office so you receive any future mailings.

How do I check my SNAP EBT card balance for P-EBT benefits?

You can check your EBT balance at connectebt.com or by calling 1-888-328-6399.

Most families with SNAP received P-EBT benefits in May or June. Check your deposit history for two separate payments totaling $420 for each eligible child. For example, if you have one school-age child, you may see a deposit in May for $193, and a later deposit for $227. Note: P-EBT deposits look like a regular EBT payment; they are not labeled “P-EBT.”

Some children with SNAP will get P-EBT benefits on a new P-EBT card in September. See “I receive SNAP or Medicaid, but I have not received P-EBT benefits yet” to learn more.

How can I get a replacement Medicaid card for P-EBT?

Request a replacement Medicaid card by calling the P-EBT helpline at 1-833-452-0096.

How can I use P-EBT benefits?

P-EBT benefits come on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. An EBT card looks like a bank debit card, and you can use it to buy food at authorized retail food stores. Click here for a list of foods you can buy with your benefits. For more information on how to use an EBT card, visit NYSOTDA.

General questions

Who is eligible?

Children who received free or reduced-price school lunches during the 2019-2020 school year are eligible for P-EBT. This includes children attending schools where all children receive free school breakfast and lunch.

It also includes the following children, if they receive free or reduced-price school meals through the National School Lunch Program:

  • Children attending private, parochial, and charter schools
  • Three and four-year old children attending Universal Pre-Kindergarten
  • Young adults ages 19 and 21 who are still in school
  • Foster children
  • Children who are non-citizens

If you are unsure if your child(ren)’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program, please contact the school directly.

How much are P-EBT benefits?

Each eligible child will receive $420.

P-EBT food benefits are $5.70 per child, for each day schools were closed from March to June 2020 due to COVID-19.

I need help with food. What other programs are available?

School Meals: School breakfast and lunch keep your child healthy, focused on school work, and help you save money. While any child can eat school meals, you can fill out an application and submit to your child’s school to see if your children qualify for free meals. (See income guidelines)

SNAP: SNAP helps New Yorkers buy food. SNAP provides monthly benefits to spend at local grocery stores. We can help you apply for SNAP. Learn more.

WIC: WIC supports moms, moms-to-be, and kids under 5 with healthy food, breastfeeding support, nutrition advice, and referrals to other helpful services. Dads, grandparents, and other caregivers can apply for children in their care. Learn more.

Our family does not need money for food at this time. What should we do with our P-EBT benefit?

Everyone who receives P-EBT should use it. Using the benefit helps your family and the local economy. Benefits are available on your card for one year from the date benefits were issued.

You cannot give your card to another person or household to use. If you wish to donate your benefit, you can buy food and donate it to a food pantry. Please check with local food pantries to see what is needed.

Who do I contact if I have questions about P-EBT?

If you have questions about P-EBT, please email otda.sm.eisp.PEBT@otda.ny.gov or call the NYSOTDA P-EBT helpline at 1-833-452-0096. The helpline is available Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm.

Note: In most cases, if you have not yet received a letter from NYSOTDA, the P-EBT helpline will not be able to assist you. Please wait to receive a letter before calling the P-EBT helpline to ask specific information regarding your household’s P-EBT food benefits. After September 15th, if you still have not received a letter from NYSOTDA and your children received free meals in March 2020, please call the helpline.

Local SNAP offices are not involved in P-EBT, and they cannot give information about your eligibility or when you will receive the benefits.

Who manages P-EBT in New York State?

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYSOTDA) manages Pandemic-EBT and issues benefits directly in our state. NYSOTDA’s FAQ, press release, and policy memo provide details about their plan to distribute benefits.

Helpful Links

NYSOTDA FAQ

Letter to Medicaid households

Creating a PIN for your Medicaid card: video, written instructions

Letter to households getting a P-EBT card

Creating a PIN for your P-EBT card: video, written instructions

EBT balance: connectebt.com

NYS P-EBT Hotline: 1-833-452-0096

NYS P-EBT Contact Form

P-EBT Outreach Toolkit

Flyer for families in English or Spanish
The basics about P-EBT, who will receive benefits, and how and when benefits will be distributed.

Sample social media posts
This language can also be used for robocalls or texts.

Infographics
Use on social media, your website, blog posts, or in the body of an email. Right click and save the images.

Sample letter to families
Use this language in a newsletter, as an email, or in a letter to families.

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