What do I need to know about the photo EBT card?

Why are there photos on some EBT cards?

There is a law in Massachusetts that says that some SNAP households need a photo EBT card.

Do I need a photo EBT card?

You may not need a photo EBT card.  

You should be able to keep an EBT card without a photo if you are head of household and you are:

  • Age 60 or older,
  • Under age 19,
  • Blind,
  • A victim of domestic violence,
  • You have a disability,
  • You are a caregiver who helps someone buy food with their SNAP,
  • you are caring for children who get SNAP, but you do not get SNAP yourself, or
  • You have a sincere religious objection to a photo.

Are you are you in one of the groups above, but DTA says you need a photo card?

If so, tell your DTA worker. If you are in one of the groups, you are "exempt". This means you are not required to have a photo unless you want one. If you have any trouble getting an EBT card without a photo, call your local legal services office.

Most SNAP households will keep their regular blue EBT card.

DTA might give you a new EBT card that says “valid without photo” if you are exempt and you need a replacement card, or you go to a DTA office.

What will my EBT card look like?

Remember:

All household members have a right to use the EBT card, even if their picture is not on the card!

If you get a new EBT card with a photo, it will look like this:

EBT card with photo

About half of households will get to keep their current EBT card without a photo, which looks like this:

EBT blue card

If you get a new EBT card without a photo, it will look like this:

EBT card valid without photo

Stores must accept all three kinds of EBT cards.

If I need a photo EBT card, how do I get one?

  • If you have a Massachusetts license or state ID, DTA can use that photo. If you do not, DTA may ask you to come in and get your photo taken.
  • DTA can mail you your card, or you can pick it up in person.

Warning

If DTA mails you your photo card, DTA will deactivate the EBT card that you have right away. You will not be able to purchase food until your new card arrives.

It can take 10-12 days or more to get a new card by regular mail. If you have any problems getting your new card, contact your local legal services office.

You can continue to use the card that you have if you cannot go into a local office or if mailing is not an option. DTA cannot close your case because you do not have a photo card.

What if I have to get a photo EBT card, but I missed my appointment to have my photo taken?

DTA cannot close your case just because you missed a photo appointment. But they can close your case if you have to recertify and you miss the interview.

If you miss a photo or recertification appointment, call your DTA worker and let your worker know when you can come in to your local office. If you cannot reach your worker you can also drop in during DTA’s regular hours.

If your case was closed because you missed a photo appointment, call Vicky Negus at Mass Law Reform Institute, 617-357-0700 ext. 315.

Does my photo EBT card work the same way?

Yes! All EBT cards work the same way at the grocery store. You can keep your old PIN, and you can choose a new PIN at any time. If a store tells you that you cannot use your EBT card for some reason, call your local legal services office right away.

What if I am having trouble getting or using the new card?

Call your local legal services office right away or contact Pat Baker at Mass Law Reform Institute, 617-357-0700 x 328 or Vicky Negus, 617-357-0700 x 315.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated April 15, 2014

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Your Local DTA Office
See important flier on Photo EBT

3 things you need to know about Photo EBT Cards:

For more information see SNAP and Photo EBT Cards: Information and Resources.

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