Wondering whether you meet food stamps eligibility in Illinois? Overall, there are several requirements that you must meet prior to receiving benefits. For instance, you must fall below a certain income level depending on the number of people in your household, and you may need to enroll in a work program as well. These rules are administered by the state Department of Human Services (DHS), and established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
While you may meet the various food stamp qualifications in IL, the other members of your household must also qualify. According to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) guidelines, a household member is defined as anyone with whom you live, buy food and make meals. Therefore, it is important for each household member to understand these specific regulations, as you may have a better chance to qualify for the program and receive a higher benefits amount.
Citizenship and Residency Requirements in Illinois
While the most important IL SNAP eligibility requirements have to do with your income, expenses and the number of people in your household, you must also meet citizenship and residency requirements. First, each household member must be a resident of Illinois.
Second, you must be a citizen or a legal non-citizen. If you are a legal non-citizen, you may need to wait a minimum of five years before applying. This five-year minimum rule applies to:
- Lawful permanent residents (LPRS) who have worked a minimum of 40 quarters in the U.S.
- Applicants who were granted conditional entry and have had that status for five years.
- Applicants who are considered battered spouses, children or parents under a certain law and are waiting for a decision on their petitions.
On the other hand, certain non-citizen applicants qualify for food stamps without having to wait five years. These include:
- Human trafficking victims.
- Applicants seeking asylum.
- Applicants who have had their deportation withheld.
- Certain Cuban or Haitian entrants.
- Elderly applicants who were born on or before a certain date.
- LPRS with a military connection, such as veterans and the immediate family members of veterans.
It is important to note that the application form will ask you to provide a Social Security Number (SSN) for every household member who wishes to receive benefits. If a household member does not have an SSN or has not yet applied for one, you may leave him or her out of the application. However, his or her income will still be factored into your income eligibility.
You may consider using a SNAP calculator to help you determine your eligibility based on citizenship and other factors. In fact, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agency, which is part of the USDA, offers a pre-screening eligibility tool, as does the Illinois DHS. In addition to submitting your citizenship status, you must enter your monthly earnings amount, utility bills and child support payments, if applicable.
What are the SNAP income guidelines in Illinois?
The SNAP income guidelines in Illinois will give you a good idea of whether or not you qualify for food assistance, because the state names them as some of the most important eligibility factors.
You may receive assistance if you and your family do not exceed the gross monthly income limit, which is calculated as 165 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). To determine your gross monthly income, combine the monthly earnings of each working household member. Moreover, make sure not to account for taxes or deductions, because that would be considered your net income.
There are varying limits for different household sizes. For example, the limit for a household size of three people is $2,858.
Furthermore, you will have different food stamp income guidelines if you are 60 years of age or older or have a disability. In this case, your household must not exceed 200 percent of the FPL. As an example, a household of two with one senior or person with disabilities must have an income below $2,743 to qualify for benefits.
Keep in mind that you will be allowed to make certain deductions if you meet the gross monthly income requirements. Every household, for example, may take a 20 percent deduction from their earned income and a standard deduction depending on the household size. You may be allowed to make the following deductions as well:
- Dependent care deduction, if applicable.
- Medical expenses deduction, if you or a household member is above a certain age and spends a certain amount on out-of-pocket medical expenses each month.
- Excess shelter costs deduction, if applicable.
Additionally, you may only meet the income requirements for food stamps in IL if your assets and other financial resources fall under a certain amount. The following resources may be counted:
- Cash on hand
- Checking or savings accounts
- Stocks and bonds
A vehicle may only be taken into account in specific circumstances. If your vehicle is used for work as a taxi driver or a similar form of employment, or if it is worth less than $1,500, it will not be counted. Moreover, there are other circumstances when vehicles do not count as resources.
Even though many resources and assets may not be factored into your income level, you must still report them. Learn more about the SNAP requirements when you download our free guide.
Other Important Food Stamps Qualifications in Illinois
Learning how to qualify for food stamps in IL goes beyond meeting the income requirements, as you must review the program’s work requirements prior to undergoing the application steps. Generally, every household member who is able-bodied and does not have children must be employed or currently looking for a job.
If an unemployed household member is offered a job, he or she must take it. Household members who are above a certain age, pregnant or have a disability are not required to have a job.
In order to meet food stamps eligibility as a student, you must meet a different set of work requirements. First, you must be enrolled in a qualifying program and be at least 18 years of age. You must also hold a job and work a certain number of hours per week. Finally, every household member must be able to pass a background check.
How do you maintain your food stamps in Illinois?
In order to meet all the food stamp qualifications while you receive your benefits, you must abide by the rules and regulations of SNAP. For instance, you are required to report any circumstantial changes to your family community resource center or local DHS office. You must also follow the guidelines on how to use your benefits. For more information on maintaining your food stamps, download our free guide.