Kansas keeps $25 ATM cash limit for welfare benefits cards

Kansas is hedging its bets on a controversial $25 limit for ATM withdrawals made with electronic benefits cards.

In June, the state hastily amended welfare overhaul legislation that Governor Sam Brownback had signed into law two months before, when lawmakers learned that the cap might violate federal rules on access to benefits — and in so doing, jeopardize $102 million in grant money from the federal government.

The revision would allow the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Children and Families to change or eliminate the withdrawal limit. But only with “guidance” from the federal government.

This guidance is still forthcoming. According to a report from the McClatchy news service, the state submitted its amended legislation to the Fed’s Health and Human Services (HHS) division on July 30.

Until it receives input from HHS, Kansas will not impose the $25 limit, the report said. Should the federal agency find the limit illegal, it seems unlikely that it will be implemented at all. If HHS allows the limit, the state would impose it immediately with full implementation expected within six to 12 months.

McClatchy said that the Kansas law contains a loophole that allows benefits recipients to get cash back on merchant transactions, with no legislative limits involved. Recipients can make two such transactions free each month. Additional cash-back transactions come with a 40 cent fee to the cardholder.

The charge for ATM transactions, on the other hand, is $1, plus any fees that the ATM owner charges.

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