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Press Release

April 18, 2014

DHHS to Begin Putting Photos on Maine EBT Cards

Within a Year, Most Electronic Benefit Cards Will Include Photos

AUGUSTA – Beginning later this month, the State of Maine will begin putting photos on Maine's Electronic Benefits Transaction (EBT) cards.

Maine is implementing a new look for EBT cards, which will include a photograph of the individual who has been issued the card. The process of adding photos will begin on April 28 in the DHHS Bangor Office. Those who already receive benefits can voluntarily go to the Office beginning April 28 and have their photos taken. All new card holders in Bangor will have their photo taken when their benefits are approved and will be issued a photo ID card immediately.

"Placing photos on the Maine EBT card supports this Administration's efforts to strengthen the integrity of our public assistance programs," said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. "The photo will also help our staff to verify the identity of the benefit recipient and will be helpful in cases where cards have been illegally sold or when multiple cards are in the possession of an individual."

The new cards, which feature a white background and a blue banner, will replace the former Pine Tree Card, which featured scenic photographs of Maine. The card will also include language that clearly indicates that misuse of the benefit card is considered a crime.

The addition of a photograph has proven to be useful to the benefit recipient in other states, as it creates a more formal proof of identification for those who do not have a State ID or have not been issued a driver's license.

Certain groups, including the disabled or blind and those 60 and over will not be required to have a photo on the card. Their cards will say "Valid without Photo." The former Pine Tree card will remain active for until new cards are delivered.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as Food Stamps, allows card holders to give a family member permission to purchase food on his or her behalf. As is the case with the current card, the Personal Identification Number, or PIN, is required in order for the purchase to be approved. Retailers are bound by their agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, which funds the SNAP.

"Putting photos on EBT cards helps to ensure that benefits are being used by those for whom they were intended," said Mayhew. "It is the right thing to do. Maine is one of the first states to do this, but it won't be the last."

Maine joins New York and Massachusetts as states that have photos on EBT cards.

Those who now receive benefits in the Bangor area will be contacted by the Office for Family Independence in the next week or so and informed how to get a new photo ID card. Beginning in July, all DHHS regional offices will begin taking photos. At that time, cards will be produced in a central location and will be mailed to the recipient.