Now most Food Stamp benefits are paperless

Almost all Food Stamp benefits for low-income individuals and families are now issued electronically, completing a 20-year transition from paper coupons, Agriculture secretary Ann Veneman said late last month.

About 95 percent of recipients access their benefits by using a magnetic-stripe card and a personal identification number. The electronic benefit transfer system, introduced in 1984, lets recipients authorize the transfer of their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer when paying for products.

USDA officials last month destroyed the remaining federal inventory of paper food stamps.

In the past three months, USDA has added a prescreening feature to its food stamp site to help users determine if they are eligible to receive food stamps. It is not an application for benefits but helps users decide whether to apply and figure out how much they would receive.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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