In 1993, Connecticut’s Legislature passed Special Act 93-26 (amended by Public Act 94-192) which required the Department of Social Services to establish a pilot program for the distribution of SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) and AFDC benefits to clients through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) by June 1, 1995. In October 1993, a Project Coordinator was appointed to carry out the requirements of Special Act 93-26. The EBT Project Coordinator was also assigned to develop a plastic identification swipe card is to be used by medical providers to verify eligibility as well as by clients to obtain food stamp and cash benefits. Connecticut will be the first state to integrate the delivery of services for three major programs through a single, magnetic striped, card.
The goals of the DSS-EBT project are to: provide a more reliable, stable, and convenient benefit delivery system; to provide a more cost effective and efficient benefit issuance system; to eliminate ATP card redemption, SNAP handling, and check cashing in Connecticut banks; to provide authorized SNAP retailers with EBT technology at the point-of-sale and streamlined accounting and settlement procedures for SNAP; to reduce the administrative costs of benefit issuance; and to reduce fraud and SNAP benefit trafficking associated with the paper benefit issuance process.
The Deputy Commissioner for Administration has ultimate responsibility for the implementation of EBT. The EBT Project Coordinator has the responsibility for the day-to-day management activities and the successful completion of all required tasks.
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.
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.
- 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.