ATLANTA -- Georgia hopes to have all of its welfare recipients on a debit card system by the year's end, saving the state more than $2 million a year.
The new system, known as Electronic Benefit Transfer, is part of the 1996 national welfare reform laws and will be implemented in all states by October 2002.
Bibb County was the pilot program in Georgia with the system beginning there last July 1.
Fulton County on June 1 becomes the first in metro Atlanta to have welfare benefits and food stamp allowances encoded on a debit card for use at grocery stores, automated teller machines and other retail sites. Benefits can be directly deposited into a checking account.
Welfare recipients in Cobb, DeKalb, Clayton, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, Rockdale and Gwinnett counties will start receiving their benefits via EBT in July and August.
Georgia benefits from implementing the cards by saving money in printing, distributing and redeeming food stamps and checks.
There also will be less chance of fraud because food stamps will no longer be available for sale on the street. The food stamp account can only be debited from a grocery store, and clients cannot use that account for nonfood purchases.