How Will I Receive Benefits?

Cash assistance and/or SNAP (formerly food stamp) credits are provided through electronic accounts. This system is called Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT. You will get a plastic card similar to a bank card called the Pennsylvania Access Card. You can use it to make withdrawals from the cash assistance and SNAP/Food Stamp accounts.

The Access card can be used at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Points of Sale (POS) machines at grocery, discount and retail stores that display the EBT or QUEST logos.

Medical benefits are received through managed care plans from participating providers.

How long can I receive benefits?

Your notice of eligibility will tell you how many months you can receive the benefit before you must reapply. Recertification for TANF is generally every six months. Recertification for SNAP/Food Stamp benefits is every 12 months.

You are required to report any changes in your circumstances (i.e. gain or loss of a job, increase or decrease in hours) which may affect your eligibility. If you are working or receiving income other than welfare, you are now only required to report changes in the income in your home twice a year (Semi-Annual Reporting, SAR). If your income increases by at least $100 or you change jobs, you need to notify your caseworker and provide proof (anything under $100 does not need to be reported). If you lose your job or decrease your hours, you need to notify your caseworker ASAP and provide proof, so your benefits can be adjusted by the next pay date.

What if I need help right away?

If the welfare office says you are eligible for cash assistance, and you need it right away because of your situation, you can get cash benefits in a few days. Be sure to ask about this.

If you are in an emergency situation and you are eligible for SNAP/Food Stamp benefits, you can receive them within five days. This is called “expedited benefits.”

You can also call Hunger Services Network to help you find a food pantry at 412-681-1121 or 412-325-0749. You can call Just Harvest to apply for SNAP/Food Stamp benefits at 412-431-8963.

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