How Do I Apply for Food Stamps in Illinois?

How Do Food Stamps Work in Illinois?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, are benefits that can be used to buy food at approved locations. The benefits come from the federal government, but the program is run by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). SNAP or food stamps come in the form of money loaded onto an Illinois Link card. If you are in need of food assistance, read on to understand how to qualify for and apply for food stamps, and other FAQs about food stamps.

How Do I Qualify for Food Stamps?

To determine if you qualify for food stamps, your local SNAP office will consider the following eligibility requirements.


The first step is to see if your household income is below 130% of the poverty level. To do this, divide your annual net household income by the federal poverty level (FPL) for your household size, and then multiply that figure by 100. For example, the FPL for a household of three is $21,720. If your household of three makes $20,000 in annual net income, dividing that income by the FPL gives you 0.92. The result of multiplying this number by 100 is 92%, below 130%, so your household would be eligible for food stamps.


Eligibility for food stamps also depends on your assets such as checking, savings, and money market accounts. You must have less than $2,750 in assets – or less than $4,250 if a member of your household is disabled or age 60 or older – to be approved.

Thanksgiving food donations
SNAP or Food Stamps

What are the Allowable Deductions for Food Stamps?

When considering your net household income, you are allowed to claim certain deductions that would be needed for household expenses other than food:

Work Requirements For Food Stamps

In addition to income eligibility requirements, anyone from ages 18 to 59 who is not disabled must also meet work-related requirements, which may include:

Any able-bodied adult in your household without dependent care responsibilities must work for at least 20 hours per week to qualify for food stamps for more than three months in a 36-month period.

How Do I Apply for Food Stamps in Illinois?

What Happens Next?

The application process starts the day your local DHS office receives your signed application. You will be asked to come to the office for an interview or interview by phone if you are unable to come to the office. The DHS caseworker will tell you what you need.

You will be asked for documents such as:

Food Stamps FAQs

Illinois food stamps – in the form of an Illinois Link Card – can be used in all 50 states at most grocery stores and ATMs. Look for a sign that says the store accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

If you do not use your benefits to make a purchase or a cash withdrawal for one year, the benefits will no longer be available.

The maximum monthly amount you can receive for a one-person household is $281. Keep in mind that your monthly amount depends on your net income.

Find Free Groceries Online at My Pantry Express

My Pantry Express offers free groceries that can be picked up at and/or delivered from locations in six counties in Illinois. If you are in need of food assistance, you can place an order online today to pick up near you.