DSS: Electronic Benefits Transfer

Electronic Benefits Transfer

[Overview] [Frequently Asked Questions]


EBT Project Overview

When Connecticut's Electronic Benefit Transfer Project began in February 1997, CT was one of the leaders in this area.
By 2004, all states were using EBT.


What is EBT?

Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, is a system which makes the issuance of state public assistance and federal food stamp benefits faster and easier through the use of electronic transactions. Through the use of an EBT card clients can access cash benefits through automated teller machines (ATM's) and food and cash benefits at the point-of-sale (POS) terminals of retailers authorized by USDA to accept food stamp benefits.


Benefits of EBT

  • EBT provides improved service. Program participants are no longer stigmatized by using coupons since EBT makes shoppers with food stamp benefits look like any other shoppers.
  • EBT introduces food stamp recipients to the same banking technology that commercial banking customers use. Using a debit card moves recipients one step closer to the mainstream.
  • EBT offers greater security and safety since recipients no longer need to carry large amounts of food stamps or cash.
  • Retailers are able to provide better customer service in the checkout lane because EBT transactions are faster and more efficient than paper coupons.
  • All of the food stamp dollar is spent on food since change is never given.
  • Retailers save money since they no longer have to count, bundle and otherwise handle coupons.
  • Since EBT has been shown to be more cost effective than paper coupons for the federal government, EBT even saves taxpayers money.
  • EBT improves USDA's ability to identify both store and household trafficking through EBT's detailed audit trail. As a result, we are now able to focus our investigatory resources and take swifter action against fraudulent parties.


EBT in the Northeast

  • In 1995 the states of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine joined forces as the Northeast Coalition of States (NCS), agreeing to jointly research, investigate, design and develop an EBT system. The NCS represents 1.5 million food stamp and more than 1.0 million cash assistance households.


{Northeast Coalition of States logo.}


  • The advantages of a multistate consortium benefit states and program participants alike. States recognize the cost savings which result from the economies of scale, and benefit from combined experience and expertise. Because workload is shared, states with limited staff can move more quickly toward EBT implementation. Many retailers and program participants found an added advantage in having a common EBT processor that allows benefit access across state lines.
  • Connecticut is also a participating member of the National EBT Council, a group chartered by NACHA.


Frequently Asked Questions
The topics below are based upon the most frequently asked questions about the project since it's inception.


EBT Contacts


For more information about the Connecticut EBT System,
call (860) 424-5756
or send an Email message to The EBT Project at the Department of Social Services.

Content Last Modified on 9/4/2015 2:13:48 PM