The Illinois Food Stamps Program (SNAP Program) helps eligible low-income families and individuals buy the food needed for good health. If you want to apply for Illinois Food Stamps, you have to make sure you qualify and are eligible. There are strict eligibility requirements that you must follow in order to be approved for SNAP. In this article, we will discuss the guidelines for Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility and income requirements for a successful application.
This post will cover:
- About Illinois Food Stamps Program
- Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines
- Food Stamps Income Chart
- What can I buy with EBT in Illinois?
- How to Apply for Illinois Food Stamps
The Food Stamps Program
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as “food stamps.”
If you don’t earn enough money to cover food costs for you and your family, you might qualify for monthly SNAP benefits.
Should you be approved for benefits, your food stamps allocation can be used to buy produce, meat, dairy, bread, and other foods on the approved list.
How much you receive in SNAP benefits is based on your income and how many people are in your household.
The maximum monthly allotment for a family of four is $680.
Illinois Food Stamps Program
In the state of Illinois, the food stamps program is run by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS).
If you meet the program eligibility guidelines, you will get a special debit card (called an Illinois EBT Card or the Illinois Link Card) as shown below.
The EBT card is loaded monthly with the money you qualify for. You can then use the card to purchase food at grocery stores and other approved locations.
The amount of money a household gets may depend on three things:
- household income from all sources (earned and unearned) such as money you get from a job, Social Security, SSI, or interest
- how many people live in your household
- where you live
There are strict eligibility requirements that you must follow in order to be approved for Food Assistance. We have detailed those guidelines below:
Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility Guidelines
In order to be approved for SNAP benefits in Illinois, you have to meet the following eligibility requirements:
Proof of Identity
The identity of the person applying must be verified for SNAP.
Some examples of proof of identity include government-issued identification card or driver’s license, work or school ID, voter registration card, or birth certificate.
With certain exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 years of age must register for work, accept an offer of suitable work, and take part in an employment and training program when referred to one by the local department of social services.
In addition, unless exempt, SNAP benefits are limited to 3 months within a 36 month period for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD’s) between the ages of 18 and 50 who are not working or participating in an approved Employment & Training Program (E&T) an average of 20 hours per week.
The applicant must live in the state they are applying for benefits in.
U.S. citizens and some non-citizens are eligible for SNAP benefits.
Some legal immigrants are ineligible for SNAP benefits.
Even if some members of the household are not eligible, household members who are eligible may still be able to get SNAP benefits.
In addition, dependents of an ineligible immigrant are often eligible.
Social Security Numbers
You will have to provide a Social Security number for every household member, including children, except for undocumented immigrants applying on behalf of others.
If any household member, other than an undocumented immigrant does not have a Social Security number, he or she will have to apply for one.
Child Support Requirement
You may be required to cooperate with the state in establishing paternity and providing child support.
Some households may be subject to a resource test.
The asset limit is $2,250 for most households and $3,500 for households containing a member who is disabled or 60 years or older.
Many types of assets are not counted such as the home you occupy and its lot, household goods, and money in retirement savings accounts or pension plans.
Countable assets include cash on hand, money in checking or savings accounts, certificates of deposit, U.S. savings bonds, stocks, and bonds.
Income is one of the most important criteria for Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility.
Your total income, before taxes or any other subtractions, is called gross income.
However, the program allows certain subtractions from your gross income, called deductions.
These can be for things you pay for like housing costs, child support payments,
medical expenses over $35 a month for elderly or disabled people, or childcare costs.
The amount left over after these deductions is called net income.
There are two income tests: gross income and net income limit. If your household has a person who is 60 or older or who is disabled, you only need to meet the net income limit.
If everyone in your household receives Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you do not need to meet any
of the income limits.
Illinois Food Stamps Income Chart
Use the chart below to find out whether your household makes less than the gross monthly income limit.
You may be eligible for food stamps if your total income falls below the appropriate gross income limits for your household size.
Your caseworker will determine which income limit applies to your household.
The chart below shows you the Gross Income and Net Income levels required for qualification, based on the number of people in each household.
|Household Size||Gross monthly income
(130 percent of poverty)
|Net monthly income
(100 percent of poverty; test for SNAP households with elderly and disabled members)
|Each additional member||(+486)||(+374)|
After adding all of your household’s countable income, the case manager will subtract certain deductions. The following deductions are allowed for all households:
- standard deduction;
- 20 percent of earned income;
- actual costs of dependent care costs for children and disabled adults if this care is needed so that a household member can work, look for a job, or get training or education leading to a job;
- legally owed and paid child-support payments;
- shelter expenses and utility expenses;
- medical expenses over $35 a month for household members who are age 60 or older or receiving certain disability payments.
How Much in Food Stamps will I Get?
If you are approved for food stamps in Illinois, how much in benefits you get partly depends on the number of people in your household.
The table below shows you the maximum amount in benefits you may receive if you are approved, based on the number of people in your household.
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Benefit||Estimated Average Monthly Benefit|
|Each additional member||(+153)|
Who CANNOT Apply for Food Stamps?
You are not eligible for Illinois Food Stamps if you fall under one or more of these:
- If you have been convicted of drug trafficking
- Are running away from a felony warrant
- Have intentionally violated a court-ordered program
- Are a student in an institution of higher education (there are exceptions if you are working, a single parent, or other special cases). Have committed food stamps fraud or have broken Food Assistance Program rules on purpose
- You are are a non-citizen without a qualified status
What can I buy with EBT in Illinois?
As with every government program, there are dos and don’ts. That is true for the Food Assistance Program.
Here’s what you can and cannot buy with your food stamps allocation:
Foods You Can Buy With Illinois EBT Card (Food Stamps Card)
- breads and cereals
- fruits and vegetables
- meats, fish and poultry; and
- dairy products
- Seeds and plants to produce food for the household to eat
- Soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream
- Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes
- Energy drinks that have a nutrition facts label
- Energy drinks that have a supplement facts label are classified by the FDA as supplements and are therefore not eligible
What you CANNOT buy with the Illinois EBT Card (Food Stamps Card)
- Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
- Any nonfood items, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, diapers, and household supplies
- Vitamins and medicines
- Food that will be eaten in the store
- Hot foods
- Live animals
NOTE: In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.
It is very important that you only buy the foods allowed under the Food Stamp program.
Engaging in any illegal use of the EBT card may cause you to lose your benefits.
And once they are revoked, you will never be allowed on the program or be eligible to apply for Food Stamps again.
If you meet the Florida Food Stamps Eligibility requirements and want to apply for Food Stamps, click here.
How to Apply for Illinois Food Stamps
There are 3 ways you can apply for food stamps in Illinois.
Option 1 – Apply online
You can apply online through the ABE Illinois account (as shown in the image below). If you have an account, you can log in or create your ABE Illinois Account. Click here to be taken to the website.
Option 2 – Apply at DHS Office Near You
You can apply in person at the Illinois Department of Human Services office near you. Click here to locate a DHS office.
Option 3 – Download Illinois Food Stamps Application
You can download an application, complete it, and mail it to your county DHS office or submit it in person.
Call your county DHS office if one of these methods will not work for you. Click here to locate a DHS office.
What happens next?
The application process begins the day your DHS office receives your signed application.
You will be asked to come to the office for an interview or participate by phone if you are unable to come to the office.
You will be asked for various types of documents such as:
- your proof of your identity
- proof of your residence
- proof of Social Security numbers for all people on your application
- other types of documents depending on your circumstances.
The DHS caseworker will tell you what you need to bring.
After your interview, if it is determined that you are eligible for SNAP, you will receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card within 30 days.
If you have little or no income or savings, you could have your EBT card within FIVE days.
On the other hand, if it is determined that you are not eligible, a notice will be sent to you telling you why your application was denied.
You may be entitled to SNAP benefits within five days if:
- Your gross income for the month you apply is less than $150 and your cash and savings are $100 or less, or
- You are a migrant or seasonal farmworker whose cash and savings do not exceed $100, or
- Your income, cash, and savings are less than your monthly shelter costs (housing and utilities).
If you think the above applies to you, please tell your interviewer when your name is called or inform your caseworker if you requested a phone interview.
Illinois Food Stamps FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions about Illinois Food Stamps.
How long does it take to process my application?
The county department has up to 30 days from the date you turn in your application to notify you of a decision about your eligibility for food assistance.
In some cases, if you have little or no income and resources, you may be entitled to expedited service and then a decision is made in 7 days from the date you turn in your application.
You will be told when a decision will be made on your application when you are interviewed.
When will I receive my Illinois food stamps benefits?
Your benefits will be deposited onto your EBT card according to the schedule below:
Benefits are made available on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 17th, and 20th of every month, based on a combination of the type of case and the case name.
Recipients may obtain information about eligibility and benefit availability by calling the DHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.
Once your benefits are deposited into your account, you can begin using them with your Illinois EBT card to purchase eligible food items.
For a full list of approved food items, see the Food Stamps Eligible Food List here.
Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility Summary
We hope this post on Illinois Food Stamps Eligibility was helpful.
If you have further questions about Illinois Food Stamps, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles about EBT, including How to get 50% OFF Amazon Prime for EBT Cardholders and Medicaid Cardholders, Extra SNAP Benefits for Illinois, and EBT Discounts and Free Stuff.