We know readers have various questions regarding how the Illinois Food Stamps (SNAP Benefits) including how the application process works, income limits, eligibility, whether non-citizens can get benefits, how much you can get in benefits if approved, how long you can stay receive food stamps, and more. We decided to set up this Illinois Food Stamps FAQs page to address the most common questions we get.
More questions will be added as and when we receive reader feedback.
Illinois Food Stamps FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Illinois Food Stamps.
Am I Eligible for Illinois SNAP Benefits?
There are three main requirements you have to meet to be eligible for SNAP benefits in Illinois, as summarized below:
To get SNAP, you must meet the gross income and/or net income limits.
Additionally, to be eligible for SNAP, you cannot have cash on hand of more than the limits below:
- $3,750 for households with at least 1 qualifying member and gross monthly income of the household is above the 200% FPL
- $2,500 for all other SNAP households
- $3,750 for Lottery and Gambling winnings.
Lastly, all able-bodied adults ages 18-49 must work to get/and continue to receive SNAP benefits unless they meet exemptions.
However, if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, disabled, or elderly, you may be exempt from the work requirements.
Furthermore, Able-bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) need to fulfill work requirements in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits unless they meet exemptions.
What is the Income Limit for PA Food Stamps?
Below are the gross monthly income limits for SNAP benefits.
If your income is less than the listed amount, you may be eligible for SNAP Benefits.
Most households in Illinois must have a total gross monthly income less than or equal to 165% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), to be potentially eligible for SNAP.
Households with an elderly person over 60 or a disabled person must meet a different gross income limit (200 of the FPL).
|Household Size||Gross Monthly Income Limit (165% FPL)||Gross Monthly Income Limit (For those Age 60 or older OR Disabled – 200% FPL)|
|Each additional person add||$625||$757|
How much will I get in Food Stamps in Illinois?
If you are approved for Illinois SNAP benefits, how much you will receive depends on your household size and net income.
The table below provides the maximum monthly benefit and the estimated average monthly benefit based on household size.
The amount you receive may differ from these amounts due to your income and other factors.
A SNAP budget must be calculated for your household in order to determine your SNAP eligibility and benefit amount.
The table below shows the maximum SNAP allotment per household size for 2021-2022 fiscal year.
|Household Size||Illinois SNAP Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each Additional Member:||+$188|
How Do I Apply for SNAP in Illinois?
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 the 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 AfterWhat happens next?
Once you submit your application for SNAP benefits, the DHS will begin reviewing your information to determine your eligibility.
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:
- proof of your identity
- a proof of your residence in the state of Illinois
- 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.
How long does it take to get benefits? What’s the process?
Once your application has been submitted, you will receive written notice from the Department of Human Services (DHS) within 14 days which will tell you the date and time of your interview.
After your interview, you will get a determination letter (approval or denial) within 30 days.
If approved, the Illinois Link EBT card comes in the mail.
SNAP recipients must fill out a form at least once a year to continue to receive benefits.
Also, if you need food immediately, you may be eligible for “expedited” processing – where you could get SNAP benefits within 7 days.
Can Students get Illinois Food Stamps?
Generally, Illinois college students are not eligible for SNAP.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, including for certain 4-year college students and Community College students (see below).
Students at four-year colleges
Currently, students enrolled at least half-time in college or vocational training are eligible for SNAP benefits if they:
- Are under 18-years-old or over 50-years-old;
- Work an average of 20 hours per week;
- Participate in a state or federal work study program;
- Receive TANF cash assistance;
- Are responsible for the care of a child between 6 and 12 years old and adequate child care is not available for school or work; or
- Are single parents of a child (or children) under 12 and are enrolled in school full-time.
Students at community college
As of January 1, 2018, low-income community college students are eligible to apply for SNAP benefits. They must be enrolled in one of these areas of study:
- Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources;
- Architecture & Construction;
- Art, Audio/Video Technology, & Communications;
- Business Management & Administration;
- Education & Training;
- Government & Public Administration;
- Health Science;
- Hospitality & Tourism;
- Human Services;
- Information Technology;
- Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security;
- Science, Technology, Engineering & Math; and
- Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.
Can immigrants and refugees get Illinois Food Stamps?
Yes. New laws have made most legal immigrants eligible for food stamps.
As a general rule, almost all legal immigrants are eligible for food stamps once they have been in the U.S. for five years.
Additionally, you may qualify to receive food stamps through the SNAP program if you belong to one of the following groups:
- Individuals who have held Legal Resident (LPR) or another qualified immigrant status for at least 5 years
- Veterans and active duty members of the US military and their spouses and children
- LPRs under the age of 18
- LPRs who are blind or disabled
- LPRs who have 40 qualifying quarters of work.
- LPRs who were legally residing in the US on August 22, 1996, and were 65 on or before August 22, 1996
- Certain Iraqi and Afghan immigrants
- Victims of trafficking, torture or other serious crimes and their derivative family members if they have applied for “T” Non-immigrant status, “U” Non-immigrant status, or Asylum status.If they are preparing to file an application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for such status, this qualifies.
Also, receiving food stamps through SNAP will not affect your immigration status.
What can I buy with EBT in Illinois?
Here’s what you can and cannot buy with your Illinois SNAP Benefits:
Foods You Can Buy with Illinois Link EBT 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 Link EBT 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.
This is called the Restaurant Meals Program.
How do I Qualify for the Restaurant Meals Program?
The state of Illinois has elected to participate in the SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) starting late Spring of 2022.
RMP allows specific qualifying SNAP households to utilize their SNAP Benefits to purchase hot meals at participating restaurants.
The program is currently up and running in Dewitt County, Franklin County, or Cook County with the following zip codes (60619, 60620, 60628, and 60617).
I heard that I might get extra SNAP benefits this month. Is that true?
Yes. During the Covid-19 emergency, the Illinois DHS is providing emergency supplemental SNAP benefits.
Eligible SNAP recipients will get up to the maximum amount of SNAP for the number of people in the household.
If you already receive the maximum amount, you will not be eligible for the supplement.
The SNAP increase will last when the government’s COVID-19 emergency declaration is over.
The declaration was extended for another 90 days on July 12, 2022. This means the extra SNAP benefits may be paid through October 2022.
Illinois Food Stamps FAQs Summary
We hope our post on the Illinois Food Stamps FAQs was helpful to you!
If you need additional help determining your eligibility for food stamps or submitting your application for Illinois SNAP, please let us know in the comments section below.
If you found this article helpful, we encourage you to please share it with someone using the “Share this” button below.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our other articles on Illinois SNAP and EBT: