Learn About Illinois Food Stamps

Updated on 09/29/2022

Food stamps in Illinois help approximately 1.8 million individuals and families afford monthly groceries. This federal program, which is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is administered by the state Department of Human Services (DHS) in the state.

If you have a low income, you may be eligible to receive SNAP assistance in Illinois. However, there are other factors that determine your eligibility and how much you can receive in food benefits. The best way to find out whether you qualify for SNAP is to file an application through one of the state’s three main methods.

Overall, SNAP food stamps are disbursed on an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card known as the Illinois link card. With these funds, you can buy a variety of foods for you and your family. On the other hand, be mindful that certain limitations may apply. For example, you cannot use your EBT card to buy cleaning supplies or household items. Find out more about the Illinois SNAP program by reading the sections below.

Learn About Illinois Food Stamps Requirements

Your food stamps eligibility in Illinois can be determined based on your income and expenses, as well as your household size and makeup. Moreover, keep in mind that this program takes into consideration both your gross income and your net income. Your gross income is how much you make before taxes, while your net income is how much is left after taxes have been deducted.

In Illinois, your gross monthly income cannot exceed 165 percent of the federal poverty level. This means that, in order to meet food stamp qualifications if you are a family of four, you cannot make a combined monthly gross income that is over $3,816. If any member of your household has a disability and/or is 60 years of age or older, your income cannot exceed 200 percent of the poverty level.

The DHS also takes into account your resources and assets when determining whether or not you meet SNAP income guidelines. This may include any vehicles you may own. However, SNAP does allow for certain deductions, such as child care or medical expenses for seniors or people with disabilities.

In addition to these requirements, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident that meets additional requirements in order to meet SNAP eligibility. If you are a non-citizen, you must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. You must also be a resident of Illinois in order to collect benefits in the state.

Furthermore, the SNAP program only accepts applicants who meet the proper work requirements. In general, you must be working at least 30 hours a week in order to receive benefits. If you do not currently work, then you will need to actively register for employment opportunities. Certain individuals are exempt from these requirements, such as those who cannot work due to a physical or mental limitation. Download our free guide to learn more about meeting SNAP requirements in Illinois.

How to Apply for Food Stamps in Illinois

There are three main ways for residents to apply for food stamps in Illinois. These methods are:

  • Online
  • Via mail or fax
  • In person at a local Family Community Resource Center

In order to apply for Illinois food stamps online, you must first create an account with the official state-wide portal. This online form allows you to apply for SNAP, Medicaid and cash benefits all at once. In any case, before completing this application process, you can use the eligibility screening tool to determine if you are likely eligible for benefits.

Applying for SNAP online takes around 30 to 34 minutes to complete. However, the portal allows you to save your application progress and return to it later if you need more time to gather your documentation.

You can also find a food stamps application form online, which can be filled out electronically and then printed out, or downloaded and manually filled out. Once it has been completed, you can mail, fax or submit the form in person.

In any case, make sure to follow the directions on the form and provide as much information as possible. Once you submit your food stamp application, you will be contacted to participate in a phone or in-person interview.

You can expect to be asked to bring in various types of documents, such as a driver’s license for proof of identity and proof of Social Security numbers (SSNs) for every member of your household. SNAP applications can take a while to be fully processed, but if you are in need of dire assistance, you can apply for expedited SNAP funds.

To apply for SNAP emergency benefits, your household’s combined monthly income must be less than your rent or mortgage plus your utility costs. If this is not the case, then your monthly income must be less than $150 and your liquid resources must not exceed $100.

Learn About SNAP Benefits in Illinois

The amount of monthly SNAP benefits you are eligible to receive depends on your household size and income. You can get an estimate of possible benefits by using a SNAP eligibility calculator.

Generally, larger families with lower income are eligible to receive more benefits in comparison to smaller families with a higher income. For instance, while a family of three can receive up to $740 in food stamp benefits, a family of 8 may be able to receive up to $1,691.

If you are accepted into the SNAP program, you will receive your benefits on a monthly basis on your EBT card. You can use this card to purchase a variety of nutritious foods, such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread and cereals
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Seeds and plants to produce foods

However, there are certain foods and store items that you cannot buy with SNAP benefits. These include vitamins, medicines and cleaning supplies. Download our free guide to learn more about the benefits provided by SNAP.

Contact Information

Name: Department of Human Services

Phone Number: (800) 843-6154

Address: 401 S. Clinton Street, 7th floor, Chicago, IL 60607

Director: Scott Viniard

Last Updated: February 27, 2023