The Texas Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system delivers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to Texas recipients. This mission-critical function of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) provides Texas households with easy access to the benefits they need by using a Lone Star EBT card to purchase basic essentials.
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. In calendar year 2013, approximately 200 million SNAP and TANF transactions were processed through the Texas EBT system, totaling to approximately $6 billion in SNAP and TANF benefits redeemed, making it one of the largest and most successful EBT systems in the nation.
Texas clients can access their benefits in more than 18,700 participating retail locations across the State. Eligibility determination staff in approximately 284 state offices use a web-based EBT software application to issue Lone Star Cards (magnetic-stripe plastic cards).
For clients, the process to access their benefits is simple. The Lone Star Card is swiped at a retailer location for payment in the same way that a commercial debit card, such as Visa or Mastercard, is swiped. The 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 (TPP's) network to the Texas EBT host system. The Texas EBT system then locates the 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 TPPs, as well as by HHSC administrative staff. The purchase amount is processed that night, transferring funds from federal and state sources to the TPPs. The processors then transmit payment to the individual retailers.