Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) (Invalid as of 09/30/2020)

Created on: 
Sep 30 2020
NOTE: This chapter is no longer valid as of 09/30/2020. The Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program has ended and is no longer available for processing in ACES.

See ACES Screens and Online Pages for an example of pages or screens used in this chapter.

What is the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Program?

P-EBT is a special program that provides additional benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card for families with school-aged children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals while school is out of session due to a pandemic. 

For additional information see:

Who is eligible for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits?

To be eligible for P-EBT, households must include an eligible child or children in grades K-12, who, if not for the closure of their school during a public health emergency designation, would receive free or reduced-price school meals under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. 

NOTE:  Receiving Basic Food benefits isn’t a requirement for P-EBT eligibility, but eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals is a requirement for P-EBT.

P-EBT is based on the statewide averaged first day of school closure and ends based on the statewide averaged last day of the academic school year. During the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2019-2020 academic school year, the P-EBT benefits are for days of school closure between March 16, 2020 through June 19, 2020.

How are Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits issued?

P-EBT benefits are issued in overnight batch when a pending Basic Food Assistance Unit (AU) is denied with Reason 548 – Requested Pandemic EBT Only.

For the COVID-19 pandemic, benefits were issued as a one-time, automatic supplemental issuance for any Basic Food AU that was Active or Closed with a paid thru date of 06/30/2020 with at least one P-EBT eligible child.  A P-EBT eligible child is:

  • A household member who was at least five years of age as of October 1, 2019 and up to 17 years and 364 days of age with a Financial Responsibility of Recipient (RE), FAP Recipient (RN), or Non IPV Disqualified (ND) with reason Citizenship/Alien Status (202); or,
  • A household member who is between 18 and 21 years of age and has:
    • A Financial Responsibility of Recipient (RE), FAP Recipient (RN), or Non IPV Disqualified (ND) with reason Citizenship/Alien Status (202),
    • Student Status code equal to Full Time (FT), Half Time (HT), or Less than Half Time (PT),
    • An Education Level code equal to Elementary/Jr High (EL) or High School/GED (Incl Running Start) (HS), and
    • The HS Complete Date is blank or greater than or equal to the month prior to the month the P-EBT program ends.  

Eligible households may receive up to $399 for each P-EBT eligible child.

Any Basic Food AUs with school-aged children that don’t receive the full $399 will generate Barcode tickle - PEBT-REVIEW ELIGIBILITY. Users need to review the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) P-EBT Search site, and determine if the children are eligible for additional months of P-EBT benefits. 

For more information on the OSPI P-EBT Search site see, Where do I find children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals?  

NOTE:  P-EBT benefits are issued as federal dollars regardless of the eligible child’s citizenship status, and are not subject to overpayments, recoupment, or used to offset a food assistance overpayment. 

The ACES.online Benefit Issuance History page displays the following for the months of March, April, May, or June 2020:

  • Issuance Type FS/EBT-Pandemic EBT Issuance (861) displays for new P-EBT approvals and benefits are made available the following day.
  • Issuance Type FS/EBT Pandemic EBT Supplement (862) displays for mass issuance of P-EBT supplements and manual BEGs for existing Basic Food households.

How do households apply for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits?

Households not already active on Basic Food assistance can apply for P-EBT benefits via Washington Connection, www.washingtonconnection.org, or verbally request the program by calling the DSHS Customer Service Contact Center. 

Is an interview required for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits?

P-EBT benefits don’t require an interview and don’t have financial or non-financial tests performed. 

What is the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)?

OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington State. OSPI works with the state’s 294 school districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.  For more information on the OSPI interface, see ACES Manual – Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Where do I find children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals?

The OSPI P-EBT Search Site is used to verify a P-EBT applicant’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals as this is a requirement for the P-EBT program.

NOTE: OSPI P-EBT Search Site is NOT updated with school children who received the one-time mass supplement. Users must verify in ACES if the child on the P-EBT request has already received P-EBT benefits, and mark P-EBT Issued field as Yes or No

For more information, see the OSPI P-EBT Search Site

How do I screen a Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Assistance Unit (AU)?

To screen a P-EBT Basic Food AU, see ACES Manual - Screening an Application.

  • During screening, select Basic Food on the Programs page.

For more information how to process a P-EBT application see, CSD Procedure Handbook- Application for Food Assistance after the one-time P-EBT Mass Issuance.

How do I process a Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) only Assistance Unit (AU)?

To process a P-EBT only AU, take the following steps in ACES 3G:

  1. For AUs with an application date 30 or more days in the past, update the following fields on the Pending Applications page:
    • Delay Reason field – Select P-EBT Application (PA) using the dropdown menu.
    • SOP Extension Date field – Enter [today’s date].
  2. On the AU Details page, update the Reasons field at the AU level by selecting one of the following Reason Codes from the dropdown menu:
  • 548 - Requested Pandemic EBT Only if the household is eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.
  • 568 - Not Eligible for Pandemic EBT if the household or a specific client isn’t eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.
NOTE:  No letter is generated when Reason 548 or 568 is used, see, What letters generate for a Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Basic Food Assistance Unit (AU)?

What letters generate for a Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) Assistance Unit (AU)?

No letters generate for P-EBT AUs when denied with Reason 548 – Requested Pandemic EBT Only or 568 – Not Eligible for Pandemic EBT.

If a P-EBT AU is denied with Reason 568, users should manually create Letter 051-01 (General Correspondence) and add appropriate free form text.

How do I manually create a Benefit Error Group (BEG) for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)?

To manually create an underpayment BEG, take the following steps:

  1. See ACES Manual – How do I manually create an overpayment or underpayment? 
  2. Update the following fields:
    • Issue Month field – Enter the [MM YY] for the month the client was eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. Add additional months on a new line as needed.
    • OP/UP field – Enter UP – Underpayment.
    • Amount field – Enter the manually calculated amount, which can be a whole number or dollars and cents.
    • Reas field – Enter SS – Student Supplement (UP for FS).
  3. Press Enter to commit the BEG.
NOTE: ACES prevents entry of reason SS if the Benefit Month is prior to March 2020 or after June 2020.  The following error message displays: 1539 INVALID BENEFIT MONTH ENTERED FOR SCHOOL SUPPLEMENT BEG.