The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Ops Memo 2013-55: MA Photo EBT Card Requirement

Date: 
10/23/2013
Author: 
DTA

MLRI Overview of EBT Photo Policy:
In August of 2013, the Massachusetts Legislature passed Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2013 requires that certain EBT cardholders be issued EBT cards with photographic images. DTA Operations Memo 2013-55 (pdf below) is the initial memo announcing this change and includes sample notices to current SNAP and and cash assistance (TAFDC) recipients. Here's important information you should know about the new EBT photo requirement in Massachusetts.

1. The following cardholders/case heads are exempt under the state law and will not have a photo place on their EBT card (about half the MA SNAP caseload):

  • Persons age 60 or older,
  • Persons who are blind,
  • Persons with disabilities (e.g. receiving SSI, RSDI, MassHealth as disabled, EAEDC or other disability benefit),
  • Persons under age 19 years, and
  • Victims of domestic violence.  

2. DTA will use existing RMV photos for EBT card where available.  Households for whom there is no RMV photo will be asked to come to a local DTA office for a photo appointment. Some households may be able to go to a nearby RMV for a photo. A household that has a hardship reason (lack of transport, work hour conflict, lack of child care) should notify DTA to reschedule or to request a waiver. Contact a local Legal Services if DTA does not grant a waiver. 

3. Federal USDA rules include THREE important legal requirements that SNAP recipients need to know about:

  • All appropriate members of the SNAP household or authorized representatives are allowed to use the EBT card - whether or not their name or photo is on the EBT card. This includes spouses, older children, unrelated persons who participate in the SNAP grant, as well as caregivers of recipients -as determined by the household. The PIN is what protects the card, not the photo! 
  • Retailers who participate in the EBT program cannot selectively ask to see a SNAP EBT card or otherwise discriminate against SNAP recipients, such as set up "SNAP-only" lines. Stores may card ALL customers who use a debit or credit or EBT card, or none. Discriminatory practices should get reported to USDA. 
  • SNAP benefits are interoperable between states. This means that SNAP recipients from from out-of-state can shop in Massachusetts, and all MA EBT residents can shop out of state. (Most EBT out-of-state shopping occurs in boarder communities.) Note, no other state in the US has a photo EBT card. 
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