P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions
What is P-EBT?
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program was developed by Congress in Spring 2020 and is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
The P-EBT program helped parents/guardians buy food for their children while schools were closed due to COVID-19 and continued to give students with free and reduced-price meal benefits through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) funding for meals they missed while out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.
P-EBT was first implemented in Pennsylvania in Spring 2020 as a response to the national public health crisis. Additional
P-EBT funds were issued for the 2020-2021 school year and continued into the 2021-2022 school year. Due to the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023, the P-EBT program will be ending after the 2022-2023 school year.
All P-EBT inquiries for benefits must be submitted by November 30, 2023. Please submit these inquires via the P-EBT Inquiry Portal.
Will DHS offer P-EBT in the 2022-2023 school year?
P-EBT will be issued to qualifying child care-aged children — ages 0-5 receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits — under the approved state plan for the 2022-2023 School Year. Benefits will be issued in two stages to the guardian's EBT card. The first stage will cover the period from September 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022, and the second stage will cover the period from January 1, 2023 to May 11, 2023. A child will only get benefits for months in which they were actively receiving SNAP benefits.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has received approval to issue Summer P-EBT 2023 to school aged children. All benefits were issued in August 2023.
Child care-aged children are not eligible for Summer P-EBT due to the end of the PHE on May 11, 2023.
Does my child qualify for P-EBT?
qualify for P-EBT, your child must:
- Receive meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP);
- Have had eligible COVID-19-related excused absences from school that caused them to not receive these meals in school.
Your child is
eligible for NSLP if they:
Important note: All students had access to free school meals during the 2021-2022 school year due to special waivers from USDA.
This does not mean all students qualify for P-EBT. These meals at school were sponsored by a different type of federal program. P-EBT relies on individual student connection to free meals through the NSLP, not their ability to get free meals from the school.
Spring 2020 — March 16, 2020 through June 10, 2020
- Based on child's NSLP eligibility start date because all schools closed in response to COVID-19.
2020-2021 school year — September 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021
- Based on the child's instruction models each month, which are simplified to Virtual, Blended, and In Person.
- To be eligible for P-EBT, the child must be Virtual or Blended.
2021-2022 school year — September 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022
- Based on child's enrollment at a school that has been closed or had reduced attendance for at least five consecutive days due to COVID-19.
- Based on child's enrollment at school due to COVID-19; the actual number of days the child was out of the classroom, or if the school did not track COVID-19 absences, the reported period during which a child missed five or more consecutive days.
DHS worked with schools to get the necessary information to determine which students are eligible.
For 2022 Summer P-EBT, your child qualifies if they were enrolled in school through the end of the school year and were eligible for Free or Reduced-Priced meals through the NSLP. In addition, if your child was enrolled through the end of the 2021-2022 school year and was still enrolled in the same school that participates in the NSLP and your child was determined eligible for NSLP over the summer (by August 21, 2022), they also qualify for the 2022 Summer P-EBT.
For 2023 Summer P-EBT, your child qualifies if they were enrolled in school on or after May 1, 2023 and were eligible for Free or Reduced-Price meals through the NSLP. In addition, if your child was enrolled through the end of the 2022-2023 school year and was still enrolled in the same school that participates in the NSLP and your child was determined eligible for NSLP by June 30, 202, they also qualify for the 2023 Summer P-EBT. Any child that was not receiving NSLP at the end of the school year whose family applies for NSLP on or after July 1, 2023 will not be eligible for Summer 2023 P-EBT.
Please note, your child does NOT qualify for P-EBT if they:
- Do not fall into one of the above categories
- Are home schooled
- Attend a cyber charter school
- Are enrolled in a school that does not participate in the NSLP
- This includes virtual academies that school districts had in place prior to the pandemic.
- Attend a school that did not have five consecutive days of closure or reduced absence due to COVID-19 during the 2021-2022 school year (applies to 2021-2022 school year P-EBT only)
How much will my child receive?
Benefit amounts are individual and specific to the student's absences, schedule, and the school they attend. Benefit amounts are determined according to funding stage guidelines. For specific amounts, you can review the detailed benefits breakdown. For Summer 2023 P-EBT, all eligible children will receive one issuance of $120.
What should I expect next if my child qualifies?
Around the same time that an eligible student receives a P-EBT benefit, they will also receive a DHS informational flyer by mail. The envelope for this flyer will be addressed from Pennsylvania.
Eligible students will receive P-EBT benefits in several stages:
|Spring 2020||March 16, 2020 – June 10, 2020|
|2020-2021 School Year: Stage 1||September 2020 – November 2020|
|2020-2021 School Year: Stage 2||December 2020 – February 2021|
|2020-2021 School Year: Stage 3 ||March 2021 – May 2021|
|P-EBT 2021 Summer Benefits||June 2021 – August 2021|
|2021-2022 School Year: Wave 1||September 2021 – November 2021|
|2021-2022 School Year: Wave 2||December 2021 – February 2022|
|2021-2022 School Year: Wave 3||March 2022 – May 2022|
|P-EBT 2022 Summer Benefits ||June 2022 – August 2022|
|P-EBT 2023 Summer Benefits||June 2023 — August 2023|
If your child previously received P-EBT benefits, additional P-EBT benefits will be issued on the existing EBT or P-EBT card, if possible.
If your child has NOT previously received P-EBT benefits, or if it is not possible to issue benefits to a previously issued EBT or P-EBT card, a new P-EBT card in your child's name will be mailed to your household based on the mailing address provided by the school. The card will arrive in a plain envelope addressed to your household with a return address from Texas. If your household has multiple children receiving P-EBT benefits, your household will receive a separate card for each child. Once you have used the benefits on the card, keep the card available because it will be re-used if your child qualifies for additional benefits.
How do I use the P-EBT benefits?
Upon receiving a new P-EBT card, you will need to activate the card by completing the following steps:
- Call the Pennsylvania EBT hotline using the phone number on the back of the card.
- Enter the full number on the front of the card when asked.
- You will then be asked if you are calling to activate a P-EBT card or a regular EBT card. Select the P-EBT option.
- You will then be asked to enter the last four digits of your zip code. Enter the zip code digits.
- Next, you will then be asked to enter the date of birth for the child whose name is one the card. Enter the date of birth using MM/DD/YYYY.
- Finally, you will be asked to enter a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). Enter a PIN number. You may select any four-digit combination you want to use, but you should avoid using repetitive numbers (1111) or sequential numbers (1234).
- Confirm your PIN number.
- Once you have successfully activated the card and assigned a PIN, the automated voice will tell you that the card has been activated and then disconnect the call.
Once your P-EBT card is activated, it can be used at any authorized store. An approved store will have a sticker displayed in its window that says EBT. Most grocery and convenience stores are approved to accept EBT and P-EBT cards. P-EBT benefits can be used to purchase most food products, but cannot be used to purchase non-food items, alcoholic beverages, pet foods, hot foods, or hot prepared foods (such as a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store). Please note, P-EBT cards cannot be accepted by schools to pay for prepared school meals.
The P-EBT benefits will remain in the SNAP account for nine months. For example, if the benefits are loaded in May and never used, they will be removed in February. However, if a portion of those benefits are used in July, then the balance will remain on the card until April. It does not matter how much or little of the P-EBT benefit is used; spending any amount will cause the removal deadline to reset.
If the amount is not used after nine months of inactivity, the P-EBT benefit will be removed from the card and cannot be re-issued.
If you receive P-EBT benefits for your child and do not wish to participate, simply destroy and throw away the card.
How do I check the balance on my P-EBT card?
To check the balance on the card, simply call the Pennsylvania EBT Hotline number on the back of the card. Any time after the card has been activated, you will get an automated list of options, including options to check the balance of the card, hear the last ten transactions on the card, change your PIN, or dispute charges.
You can also check your balance through www.connectebt.com or the ConnectEBT mobile app. To create your account, you will be asked to enter your full social security number. For a P-EBT card, you should enter the SSN using 000-00 as the first five numbers and then the last four digits of your zip code. For example, if your zip code is 12345, then you will enter 000-00-2345 as the SSN. You will then enter the child's date of birth. Families that receive the benefit on their regular EBT card can also check their SNAP balance through DHS' myCOMPASS PA mobile app.
If you suspect fraudulent activity, please call the Fraud Tipline at 1-844-DHS-TIPS to report.
What if I need a new P-EBT card?
If you require a replacement card and your child qualified for P-EBT for the 2021-2022 school year, the 2022 Summer P-EBT and/or the 2023 Summer P-EBT, you can request one through the P-EBT Parent Portal. Please see the specific instructions for accessing the Parent Portal on your mobile device and searching your child's name.
Once your child's issuance has been found, there will be a box that you can select to request a replacement card. This will take you to a screen where you can enter your current address and officially submit the request. If the request is successful, you will then see a message at the top of the page confirming your request was received. You should receive your replacement card by mail in 6-8 weeks after submitting a request.
If you are unable to request a replacement card through the P-EBT Parent Portal, you can also call the Pennsylvania P-EBT Hotline at 1-877-343-0179 for assistance or submit a Replacement Card request online via the P-EBT Inquiry Portal.
What if I didn't receive a P-EBT benefit?
P-EBT eligibility is based on data from your child's school. If the school indicates that the school did not meet the program's school closure or absence criteria, or the child did not have excused absences related to COVID-19 , P-EBT benefits cannot be issued.
All P-EBT benefits from 2020-2023 have been dispersed. If the following conditions are met but you did not receive a benefit for specific school year(s), you should first check the P-EBT Parent Portal to see if your child was determined eligible for a P-EBT benefit during the 2021-2022 and/or 2022-2023 School Year:
- Your child was eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the NSLP
- Your child's school had at least five consecutive days of COVID-19 related closure or reduced attendance, AND
- Your child was enrolled in school through the end of the school year to receive Summer P-EBT
If you check the portal and find your child was eligible, but you are not actively receiving SNAP benefits, you may need to request a replacement card through the automated process in the P-EBT Parent Portal.
If you cannot find your child through the P-EBT Parent Portal, if the number of days absent due to COVID-19 displayed in the portal are incorrect, or you encounter any other issues, please contact us via one of the following methods:
- Pennsylvania P-EBT inquiries can also be submitted online via our new P-EBT Inquiry Portal. When submitting your inquiry, please choose the applicable school year for the Reason and answer the eligibility questions in red in the Comments section on the Submitter Information page. The status of your inquiry can be tracked in the P-EBT Inquiry Portal and a response will be sent to you via the Portal once the inquiry is reviewed. For more information on navigating the P-EBT Inquiry Portal, please see the P-EBT Portal User Guide.
- Call the P-EBT Hotline at 1-877-343-0179. Please have the following information on hand when you call:
- Name(s) of your child(ren)
- Child(ren) date(s) of birth
- School or school district they attend
- Contact phone number
- Contact email address
- Current mailing address
- A brief description of the issue
- The specific days when your child was out of school due to COVID-19
What if my household moved recently or moved and did not report a change in address to the school?
If you set up mail forwarding with the post office, you should still receive the card. We've confirmed that the card envelopes do not have language indicating they cannot be forwarded, so the post office will deliver them to the new forwarding address on file.
If mail forwarding is not an option, you will be able to use the automated process available through the P-EBT Parent Portal to request a replacement card to your new address if your child was eligible for P-EBT benefits for the 2021-2022 school year, 2022 Summer P-EBT, and/or 2023 Summer P-EBT.
In addition, you can call the Pennsylvania P-EBT hotline at 1-877-343-0179 to request a replacement P-EBT card and change your address.
Please note, if you require a replacement for an EBT card, you should call the Pennsylvania EBT hotline at 1-877-395-8930 instead.
What if I do not get any results in the P-EBT Parent Portal, but I think my child was eligible for P-EBT?
The P-EBT Parent Portal uses the exact student information that the school provided in their submission file for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 School Years.
In order for a search to be successful, the information you enter for your child (first name, last name, and date of birth) as well as the information you enter for the guardian (first name and last name) must match exactly what was submitted by the child's school. This includes any special characters, such as hyphens or apostrophes, and spaces between multiple numbers. If you search for your child and do not get a result, you may want to try variations of spelling for the child or guardian's names or check any communications you've received in the past from the school to confirm how the child and the guardian's names are spelled according to the school's records.
Please see the specific instructions for accessing the P-EBT Parent Portal on your mobile device and searching your child's name.
Please note, your child is NOT considered eligible for P-EBT if:
- Your child's school did not submit a file
- Your child was in a Paid status for the National School Lunch Program
- Your child did not attend a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school
- Your child did not miss any days due to COVID-19
If you are still unable to find your child after checking the spelling of your child's name, the spelling of the parent/guardian's name, and the child's date of birth, and your child had COVID-19 related absences, please contact the Pennsylvania P-EBT Hotline at 1-877-343-0179.
Before calling the P-EBT hotline, please review the Know Before You Call Checklist to check if your inquiry can be resolved using online resources. Using online resources and self-service options are often the quickest ways to resolve an inquiry.
Pennsylvania P-EBT inquiries can also be submitted via our new P-EBT Inquiry Portal. If you submitted an inquiry through the prior inquiry form, your inquiry is still being worked and you do not need to submit a new inquiry.
For more information on navigating the P-EBT Inquiry Portal, please see the P-EBT Portal User Guide.
What if my child is too young to attend school?
If your child is 5 years-old or younger and receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), they qualify for P-EBT Benefits for Childcare Age Children. Since receiving SNAP is a requirement for this group, all benefits are issued directly to the SNAP household's regular EBT card.
- DURING the 2020-2021 school year:
- If the child turned six during any of this time, the child was no longer eligible. They will receive a pro-rated benefit up through the month in which they turned six, but nothing beyond that.
- For example, if the child turned 6 in April, then they would receive a pro-rated Stage 3 benefit for March and April, but would not get anything for May or the Summer P-EBT.
- DURING the 2021-2022 school year:
- If a child was under six when the school year started (for the purposes of P-EBT, if a child was under 6 as of September 1, 2021), they could qualify for the whole year, including summer, even once they turned six, provided they remained on SNAP benefits the whole time
- There were only 2 stages of Childcare P-EBT issuance and every child will receive the same benefit amount for the number of months they were eligible for SNAP, rather than taking the average for a region as we did with the 2020-2021 school year. It doesn't matter which months the child was eligible for SNAP.
- A child can only receive childcare aged P-EBT benefits for months they were actively receiving SNAP benefits. Therefore, a child's eligibility for P-EBT child care benefits begins and ends when a child's SNAP enrollment begins and ends. Also, eligibility cannot be retroactive.
- For example, if the child was eligible for SNAP November 2021-Janurary 2022, then the child is only eligible for 3 months of P-EBT.
- DURING the 2022-2023 school year:
- P-EBT benefits will be issued to children under age 6 as of September 1, 2022 and are eligible members on active SNAP cases
- A child will receive a pro-rated May benefit if the household applied for SNAP from May 1, 2023 through May 11, 2023 and determined eligible
For information about funding amounts for childcare age children, please review the detailed benefits breakdown.