Ohio’s food assistance program to use new technology

(Plain Press, March 2006) During the month of March, Ohioans participating in the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) Electronic Benefits Transfer Program (formerly food stamp program) will be receiving a new Ohio Direction card in the mail.

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services spokesman Dennis Evans says the new card marks a change in technology. He says the new card will have a magnetic strip and will function like a debit card. It can be used on ATM or credit card machines at stores participating in the program.

The state plans to change from the old Ohio Direction Smart Card to the new debit card at 12 a.m. on Monday, March 27, 2006. At that point retailers will only accept the new cards.

Participants in the program will receive instructions by mail in both English and Spanish explaining how to activate the new cards. The new online system will automatically credit the food benefit amount to the new cards each month, says Evans. The cards can be operated like a typical bank debit card, he said. Recipients will be able to check their balances on ATM type machines.
Information from the ODJFS says individuals with account balances on their old cards may have to wait a few days while balances transfer to the new online system. ODJFS anticipates all balance transfers will be completed by 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29th.

Evans says individuals and families making up to 130% of the federal poverty rate are eligible for this financial assistance for the purchase of food.

The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services website lists additional criterion for eligibility at www.jfs.ohio.gov/factsheets/foodstamps.pdf.

For example, income remaining after eligible expenses cannot exceed 100% of the poverty rate. The resources of the household (cash, savings, stocks etc.) cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if a person is at least 60 years old or disabled.) Exceptions to this rule exist for those on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and for Ohio Works First (OWF) households. The income and resource limits also are not applied if all members of a household receive assistance from one of the following programs: SSI, OWF, or the Ohio Disability Assistance Program (DA).

For more information about the electronic benefit transfer program visit your local Cuyahoga County Family Services Center or call ODJFS at 614-466-6814.


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