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Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is a method of delivering governmental benefits to recipients electronically. Louisiana uses magnetic stripe card technology. The card, which is referred to as the Louisiana Purchase Card enables recipients to access benefits at Point-of-Sale (POS) machines.
The LifeInCheck mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones provides direct access to account information, such as:
- SNAP/P-EBT & Cash Balances
- Next Available Benefit Date
- Report Lost or Stolen Cards
- Request Replacement Cards
- PIN Selection
- Recent Transaction History
Future plans include such innovations as digital coupons, nutritional engagement and mobile EBT transactions. Stay tuned for new feature announcements!
Frequently Asked Questions
DSNAP EBT Cards
When should I expect my DSNAP card, and what do I do if it doesn't arrive?
If you listed a physical address for your DSNAP EBT card, your card can take 3-5 Business Days for delivery. DSNAP cards are being delivered by U.S. Postal Service. Due to the heavy volume, the card may be delayed.
If you listed a P.O. Box for your DSNAP EBT card, it is being delivered by regular mail delivery, which can take up to 7-10 business days for delivery.
NOTE: The DSNAP EBT card will be sent separately from your benefits approval letter.
If you don't receive your card in your expected timeframe, please contact our LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 or LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov.
You can call LAHelpU from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., M-F, except on holidays. To speak with a customer service representative, select your language, then press option 6 and listen for the appropriate prompt. Tip: Call volumes are lightest in the first and last hours of the day.
If you send an email, provide your name as it appears in our records, your contact information, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You should also include a brief description of your situation and reason for writing, as well as a descriptive subject line. Our staff will respond as quickly as possible, but they receive a great volume of requests. Please allow at least three or four business days for a response.
My DSNAP card has a $0 balance when I call. What's going on?
This could happen for a couple of reasons:
(1) You must activate the card after you receive it for the balance to become available to you. The automated system will not tell you the balance on your card until the card has been activated. For information on how to activate your card, read “How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?” below.
(2) If you have an EBT card for another program (such as P-EBT, or a card from an old or denied SNAP case), when you call the EBT Customer Service Center to activate your DSNAP EBT card, you must make sure you enter the 16-digit card number from the DSNAP card. If you enter only your personal information (SSN, DOB, ZIP), the system may pull up your P-EBT or old SNAP account instead of your DSNAP account. For more information on how to activate your card, read “How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?” below.
If neither of these reasons applies, please call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to speak with someone about your case.
How do I activate my EBT card for DSNAP?
To activate your DSNAP EBT card, call the EBT customer service line at 1-888-997-1117, enter your 16-digit card number, and then listen for the option to select or reset your PIN. To set your PIN, you will need the last four digits of the Social Security number, date of birth and zip code for the mailing address of the Head of Household.
If the Head of Household did not provide a Social Security number during the DSNAP application process, the cardholder will need to call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to get the number needed to set the PIN and activate the DSNAP EBT card.
NOTE: If you have an EBT card for another program (such as P-EBT, or a card from an old or denied SNAP case), you must first enter the 16-digit card number from your DSNAP EBT card before setting your PIN. Otherwise, the system may pull up your P-EBT or old SNAP account instead of your DSNAP account.
Please note that PINs selected with any of the below patterns are not allowed:
- Identical digits (1111, 2222, 3333, etc.)
- Consecutive digits (1234, 2345, 3456, etc.)
- Numbers that start with one or more zeroes (0657, 0051, 0001, etc.)
- The last four digits of the cardholder’s Social Security number
- The cardholder’s birthdate
What do I do if I lost my DSNAP card?
Call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 to report your card lost and request a new one.
General EBT Info
When are SNAP benefits loaded onto EBT cards?
SNAP (food stamp) benefits are posted to the recipient's account during the first 14 days of the month. Recipient benefits are accessible by 5:00 a.m. the morning after they are posted. Benefits are posted on the same date every month regardless of the day of the week. Holidays and weekends do not affect the date of benefit eligibility.
When will my next benefit be deposited into my account?
A benefit schedule for SNAP is provided in the Program Info section of the LifeInCheck EBT mobile app. Go to "My Account," then click "Benefits Schedule."
PLEASE NOTE: The "Benefits Schedule" in the app is for regular SNAP benefits only. Other benefits, such as Supplemental SNAP or P-EBT, are issued on a different schedule. For more information on Supplemental SNAP during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our SNAP - COVID-19 FAQs. For information about P-EBT, visit our P-EBT Program page.
How are EBT cards secured?
Benefits are secure and accessible only to persons authorized by the recipient. The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is selected by the recipient and must be correctly entered in order to successfully complete all electronic transactions. As purchases are made at grocery store checkout lanes, recipient accounts are debited and the recipient is given a receipt which provides the remaining account balance.
How do I change my PIN for my EBT card?
There are 3 ways to change your PIN:
- Mobile: Log into the LifeInCheck EBT mobile app and select the "My Account" icon on the bottom right of the screen. There will be a list of options available including one to change your PIN.
- Web: Go to www.LifeInCheckEBT.com and select the "Card Management" tab on the top of the screen. This will bring you to a screen where you can change your PIN.
- Phone: Call the EBT customer service line at 1-888-997-1117 and listen for the options to select a PIN or reset your PIN.
NOTE: PINs selected with any of the below patterns are not allowed:
- Identical digits (1111, 2222, 3333, etc.)
- Consecutive digits (1234, 2345, 3456, etc.)
- Numbers that start with one or more zeroes (0657, 0051, 0001, etc.)
- The last four digits of the cardholder's Social Security number
- The cardholder's birthdate
REMEMBER: Do not write your PIN on your card or on anything else you carry in your wallet or purse, in case it is lost or stolen. Choose a PIN that is easy for you to remember, but hard for someone else to guess or figure out, in case you lose your card.
PIN Freeze After 3 Bad PIN Attempts:
After three bad PIN attempts, your account will freeze. Please know that your PIN will reset at midnight and you can attempt to use your card again or reset your PIN at that time.
What do I do if my EBT card is lost, stolen or damaged and I need to request a replacement?
If your card is lost, stolen or damaged, cancel your card immediately. You may request a new replacement card after you have canceled your current card. You can do this in one of 3 ways:
- Mobile: Log into the LifeInCheck EBT mobile app and select the "My Account" icon on the bottom right of the screen. There will be a list of options available including one to deactivate or cancel your card and request a new replacement card.
- Web: Go to www.LifeInCheckEBT.com and select the "Card Management" tab on the top of the screen. This will bring you to a screen where you can cancel your card and request a new replacement card.
- Phone: Call the EBT customer service line at 1-888-997-1117 and listen for the option to report your card as lost, stolen or damaged.
Will I be able to use my benefits while I'm waiting for my replacement card to arrive?
Unfortunately, you will be unable to use your benefits until you receive your new replacement card and select a PIN. After a new PIN is selected, your new card is activated and your previous balance and transaction information will be available on the new card.
What do I do if my balance is incorrect?
Follow these steps:
- Sign into the web portal at www.LifeInCheckEBT.com or use the LifeInCheck EBT mobile app to view your most recent transactions and verify the transactions are correct.
- If you have a concern about a specific transaction, call the EBT customer service line at 1-888-997-1117 to file a disputed charge.
Where can I use my EBT card?
You can use your EBT card anywhere in the U.S. that accepts SNAP EBT cards. The SNAP Retailer Locator allows anyone to locate nearby SNAP-authorized retailers by entering a street address, city, and state, or zip code. Enter your starting location and select a retailer or map point to get details and directions.
How do I use my EBT card at the store?
You can use your EBT card at any SNAP-approved retailer to buy eligible food (see below for eligible food listing) with your SNAP or P-EBT benefits. Locate a SNAP retailer with this interactive tool.
If you also have cash benefits, you can use the benefits to buy food and non-food items, or get cash back.
At checkout, swipe your EBT card through the machine. If you receive both SNAP and cash benefits on your EBT card, be sure to select the correct payment type when your card is swiped. The State cannot correct this after the transaction is complete and you have left the store. Follow the directions on the machine to enter your PIN. Always check your receipt to make sure the amount of the EBT purchase is correct.
How do I take out cash on my card?
If you receive cash benefits on your EBT card, you can use your card at a SNAP-approved retailer to request cash back (though not all stores allow this). Some stores will allow you to receive cash back with a purchase, and some stores may allow you to withdraw cash without a purchase. You must follow the store's policy regarding cash back or cash withdrawals.
You also can get cash from an ATM where EBT cards are accepted. Insert your card and enter your 4-digit PIN. Select "Withdrawal" from "Checking" and enter the dollar amount you want to withdraw.
Can I use my SNAP benefits to buy groceries online?
Louisiana residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may now purchase groceries online at participating retailers across the state. Consumers can use their EBT cards to shop and pay for qualified foods online. Delivery and other fees associated with online purchasing are not covered by SNAP benefits. For more information, visit our EBT Online Purchasing page.
What can I buy with SNAP or P-EBT benefits?
Eligible items are household foods such as fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; dairy products; breads and cereals; snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat.
Ineligible: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes and tobacco; vitamins, medicines and supplements (if an item has a "supplement facts" label, it is not eligible for P-EBT purchase); live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water and animals slaughtered before pick-up from the store); prepared foods that are fit for immediate consumption; hot foods; pet foods; cleaning supplies, paper products and other household supplies; hygiene items and cosmetics.
For more information, visit USDA's SNAP Eligible Food Items page.
What will happen if I misuse my EBT card?
It is illegal to sell, trade or give away your SNAP benefits, PIN or Louisiana EBT card; to allow a retailer to buy your food benefits in exchange for cash; and to use someone else's SNAP benefits or Louisiana EBT card for your household. If you are found guilty of intentional program violations, you will be disqualified from SNAP benefits and will have to pay back any unauthorized SNAP benefits issued.
LifeInCheck EBT App
What is LifeInCheck EBT?
LifeInCheck EBT is a new smartphone app that provides EBT cardholders in Louisiana with easy access to information such as:
- SNAP and cash account balances
- Next available deposit date
- Transaction history
- And more!
The app was developed by Inmar Intelligence, the company that handles EBT cards and processing for DCFS, and is available for iPhones and Androids.
What are the benefits of the app?
Using the LifeInCheck EBT app allows you to:
- Get your SNAP & cash balances
- View next available benefit date
- View recent transactions
- Mark your card as lost or stolen
- Request a replacement card
- Select your PIN
- Access helpful SNAP and cash information
In the future, DCFS also may send alerts about program updates or other important information for SNAP, FITAP and KCSP clients through the app.
I don't own a smartphone. How can I access the same or similar information?
DCFS also sends alerts about program updates or other important information through text messages if we have a current mobile number on file for you. You can help ensure you receive these messages by updating your contact information in the CAFE portal.
What about P-EBT? Can I get information on my P-EBT account and balance in the LifeInCheck EBT app?
Yes. You will need a separate LifeInCheck EBT app login (with a different email address) for each EBT card you have. So if you have a P-EBT card and a SNAP card, you will need to create two logins for the app - one login with one email address for your P-EBT card, and a second login with a second email address for your SNAP card. Logging into your P-EBT account on the app will show your P-EBT balance and transactions (though the balance will appear under "SNAP" on the app), and logging into your SNAP account on the app will show your SNAP balance and transactions.
You can use the LifeInCheck EBT app to get your balance, view recent transactions, mark your card as lost or stolen, request a replacement card, select your PIN, and access helpful information about other benefit programs such as SNAP.
How do you download the app?
Search and download the app from the app store (Apple App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices).
To register, you must have an active SNAP, TANF (FITAP or KCSP) or P-EBT case with DCFS. Assuming you have an active case, you will also need the following:
- EBT card number
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Email address
- Phone number
You will then select security questions, create a password and select a PIN (unless you already have one).
Is the app free?
Yes, the app is free to download and use.
What assurance do I have that my personal information is secure?
Federal law requires that the personal information of recipients of SNAP and other federal benefits be kept confidential and secure. Information that must be kept secure includes recipient names, Social Security numbers, benefit amounts, user IDs, passwords, PINs and personal account numbers.
In the case of SNAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) developed guidelines to ensure certain security controls are in place to protect recipients' information. The guidelines are based on both federal regulations and industry best practices.
User IDs, passwords and PINs are just some of the ways clients' personal information is safeguarded. The computer systems used to issue benefits and process EBT transactions are also put through rigorous testing and trial runs with FNS before they can be used to handle benefits. That includes the systems that issue benefits (on the DCFS side) and process EBT transactions (on the vendor side), and the mobile app, which communicates with the EBT system and therefore must also be secure.
What is the arrangement between this app and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services?
The LifeInCheck EBT app was developed by Inmar Intelligence, the company selected to handle EBT cards and processing for DCFS (unlike other available apps).
Why does DCFS recommend this app to its clients?
The LifeInCheck EBT app was developed by Inmar Intelligence, the department's EBT contractor, with the goal of helping DCFS clients manage their benefits in a way that is more efficient and convenient for them.
How is this app different from other EBT apps available in the marketplace?
The LifeInCheck EBT app was developed by Inmar Intelligence, which is directly contracted with DCFS. Other available apps are not reviewed and approved by DCFS so the information displayed can potentially be inaccurate and/or outdated.
Some unique features on the LifeInCheck EBT app include:
- Card Replacement Request - You have the ability to request a replacement card if your card is damaged, stolen or lost.
- PIN Selection - Through the app, you can select a new PIN or change your PIN.
- Direct State Messaging - Coming soon, DCFS will have the capability to send broadcast messages through the app keeping you informed and updated to important news.
- Self-Service Support - Coming soon, the app will allow you to write about problems you're having, and then a Customer Service Representative will reach out with a solution.
In future versions of the LifeInCheck EBT app, new features will be added enabling you to find easier ways to save money and shop healthy:
- Digital Coupons - Enter your current retailer loyalty program information into the app and gain access to digital coupons. Clip and save them in your account to be used on your next shopping trip.
- Prescription Discount Card - Search your prescription medication on the app feature and use the provided card at your favorite pharmacy to save money.
- Nutritional Engagement Tools - Search products and scan product barcodes to understand more about their nutritional value. Each product will also be scored so you can track your progress towards eating healthier.
How can I unlock the LifeInCehck app if I have been locked out?
If you are locked out of the LifeInCheck app, you must email EBTHelp@inmar.com with the following information:
- The subject line of the email must be the word LOCKED.
- The body of the email must include the following:
- the name located on the front of your EBT Card;
- the last six (6) digits of your EBT card number;
- the last four (4) digits of your Social Security number or the last four (4) digits of your child's Student ID if the account is for their P-EBT benefits.
Your account will be unlocked and unregistered automatically within two (2) business days. You will then need to re-register. Your account will not be unlocked unless you supply all of the requested information.
When do my benefits expire?
Under federal rules, federal food assistance benefits will be expunged (or removed) from a recipient’s EBT card nine months after the benefits are issued, unless the card is used to make a purchase within this nine-month period. If the card is used, the benefits will remain on the card for nine months from the date of the last purchase.
Once benefits have been removed, they cannot be added back to the card.
I received a letter from DCFS saying my benefits will be removed. What does this mean?
The letter is meant to inform you that it has been 8 months since you last used your EBT card, and your benefits will be removed in 1 month. If you make a purchase with your card, the timer will be reset. If you don’t, any remaining benefits may be lost. However, your card and your case are still active and any future benefits will be added to your card with the same 9-month time limit. For more information about benefit removal, visit http://www.dcfs.la.gov/page/ebt-benefit-expungement.