SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 1, 2014

Feds question photo ID rollout on EBT cards

BOSTON — A top federal government official is troubled by the way the Patrick administration is rolling out a new photo identification requirement on welfare benefit cards, saying that some cards had been erroneously deactivated and prevented recipients from accessing food assistance.

Jessica Shahin, associate administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), wrote a letter to Health and Human Service Secretary John Polanowicz last week, detailing the federal government’s concerns over the way the photo program is being implemented on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards.

“The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is deeply concerned about issues related to implementation that are adversely affecting client access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits,” Shahin wrote, according to a letter obtained by the News Service.

The Department of Transitional Assistance began rolling out photos on EBT cards in mid-November, four months after lawmakers passed the new requirement aimed at cutting down on fraud and abuse. Under the law, DTA had up to 12 months to replace all EBT cards that require a photo ID.

“FNS understands that the photo EBT requirement is a state law; however, the sheer volume of households potentially without access to their benefits suggests that DTA has pursued a rushed implementation of the requirement without taking care to put adequate safeguards in place for eligible, participating households,” she wrote.

DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan told the News Service that the department did have procedures in place to remedy any problems for those receiving new cards. She described the implementation overall as “really successful.”

“We put a lot of safeguards in place prior to mailing cards,” she said.

Gov. Deval Patrick agreed to the photo ID requirement as part of a budget bill he signed in July, with supporters of the measure saying it would help prevent benefit fraud and ensure that public assistance benefits flow only to the proper recipients. Patrick in July sought $2.5 million to implement the photo ID requirement.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Police in helicopters spot marijuana plants in Salem, Peabody PEABODY -- The state police buzzed over Peabody by helicopter this week and spotted marijuana plants growing outside a home on St. Ann's Avenue. A ground unit was alerted and cut down the plants. The operation was part of regular "marijuana eradicati

    August 1, 2014

  • 140801_SN_DLE_BEVDEPOT3.jpg Beverly MBTA garage opens

    Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Mike Cahill opened the new MBTA parking garage Friday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the roof.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sex offender found in New Hampshire

    The Level 3 sex offender who allegedly cut off his GPS bracelet and absconded after he was spotted with a 16-year-old boy, in violation of his probation in a child rape case, has been arrested in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    August 1, 2014

  • State sets tax holiday BOSTON -- Shoppers will get a holiday from the state sales tax on Aug. 16 and 17, after state lawmakers finally agreed on a weekend. The tax-free holiday has been an annual event since 2004, with the exception of 2009, when the state raised the sales

    August 1, 2014

  • crab Little green invaders threatening local clam flats IPSWICH -- The green crab is eating our lunch. It's been eating its way through Northeastern shellfish for years, and some local experts are worried that the undersized crustacean, about 31/2 to 4 inches across, has reached critical mass. The creatur

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos