Illinois SNAP Benefits

SNAP food benefits in Illinois, commonly referred to as the food stamps benefits program, started in the mid-1930s. Now called the SNAP benefits program or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, every state in the nation, including Illinois, provides food assistance benefits to its residents. Benefits for food stamps program are designed to help individuals and families who earn a low income still afford the food they need. This helps prevent many avoidable disorders that would otherwise result from undernourishment. Because of this, Illinois food stamps benefits cannot be used to purchase certain ineligible items.

The Illinois food stamps enrollment process is simple, with a small waiting period. After the SNAP benefits applicant receives word of his or her enrollment in the program, he or she will receive an EBT benefits card. Once the post office has delivered the benefits card food stamps can be used by the enrollee to buy eligible food items. To find out what items can be purchased with a food stamps benefits card or how long the enrollment waiting period is, read the information provided below.

Food Items That Can Be Purchased With SNAP in Illinois

Illinois SNAP food benefits generally can be used to buy most food products as long as the item provides some form of nourishment to the food stamps beneficiary. Benefits from SNAP can be used to buy the following types of food products:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Meat, poultry and fish

Even though there has been much political debate on the subject, food stamps benefits can also be used to buy junk food such as ice cream, snacks and candy as well as luxury items like lobster. In fact, live lobster or any seafood that is alive at the time of purchase can be bought with food stamps. However, IL SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy living animals such as barnyard pigs or chickens. Plants and seeds that will be used by food stamps beneficiaries to grow food can be purchased with an EBT card.

Items You Cannot Buy With Illinois SNAP Benefits

Many food items can be bought with food stamps benefits yet, there are a few restrictions. Illinois SNAP benefits will not cover items that are deemed dangerous or will not provide nourishment to the beneficiaries. This list details the ineligible items that cannot be bought with food assistance include the following:

  • Household supplies
  • Cleaning products
  • Paper supplies
  • Pet food
  • Any alcoholic beverage
  • Cigarettes and other tobacco products

While SNAP food benefits cannot buy alcoholic drinks, energy drinks and soda pop are considered eligible items. Even though vitamins and medicines may help the beneficiary's health, food stamps assistance cannot be used to buy these items because they are not technically food items.

How long does it take to receive Illinois SNAP benefits after enrollment?

The Illinois food stamps program is governed by the state Department of Human Services. All SNAP benefits applicants must submit an application and sit for an interview with the Department. After this process is complete, most food stamps applicants will receive news via mail about their enrollment status. Certain applicants can apply for expedited enrollment. If enrolled, the beneficiary will receive an EBT card. If denied, the applicant can file for an appeal.

The SNAP benefits application will require all applicants to give details on many aspects of their lives including their income amount, their citizen status and their living arrangements. SNAP benefits seekers should be prepared to truthfully provide all the information requested by the Department of Human Services.

Illinois EBT Card Overview

SNAP food benefits can be accessed through an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, or EBT card. This benefits card is called an Illinois Link card in the state. Benefits from food stamps will be deposited monthly into the beneficiary's account. He or she can use the Illinois food stamps benefits card like a debit card at the grocery store to purchase approved food items. Also, beneficiaries can use their EBT cards at ATMs to withdraw cash. The balance on the food stamps benefits accounts can be checked online.

All Illinois food stamps recipients are prohibited from using their EBT cards at ATMs inside liquor stores, gambling facilities and adult entertainment facilities. If a recipient sells his or her EBT card for cash or tries to use cash withdrawn from the card for unapproved items, he or she could face serious criminal charges. If the benefits card is lost or stolen, food stamps beneficiaries are encouraged to report the card missing as soon as possible.

Determining Your Illinois SNAP Benefit Amount

Illinois SNAP benefits are not evenly divided amongst all beneficiaries. There are a variety of determining factors that affect how much in food stamps benefits a person receives each month. Income and assets are the most important aspect for determining benefits amounts. Income from employment, child support, alimony or other government assistance programs are considered at by the Department of Human services as well as the amount of assets like property or investments the applicant has. Benefits from the food stamps program also depend on the number of people living in the beneficiary's home. A family of three will most likely receive less benefits than a family of seven. The enrollee's ability to work also plays a role in determining benefits amounts.


What Are Food Stamps?

Food Stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is a federal- and state-funded program that provides low-income Americans with food assistance benefits. Eligible individuals and families can use their state-issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, which are regularly replenished with a set amount of benefits, to purchase approved food items. Learn more about the SNAP program and how you can start receiving benefits here.


Who Is Eligible to Receive Food Stamp Benefits?

Before you can begin obtaining food items with state SNAP benefits, you must apply to the program and prove that you are eligible. All applicants are subject to various requirements established by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These involve household income limits, resource limits, work requirements and more. To find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits, download our guide today.