Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP

What is the purpose of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Illinois Link CardThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly Food Stamps) helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health.

Benefits are provided on the Illinois Link Card - an electronic card that is accepted at most grocery stores. The program is managed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Department of Human Services administers the program in Illinois. 

Who can receive these services?

Most households with low income can get SNAP benefits. The rules are complex, so all of the details are not here. The most important factors which determine the amount of, and eligibility for, SNAP benefits are:

  • income and expenses;
  • the number of persons who live and eat together

Use the SNAP Eligibility Calculator to give an estimate of possible benefits.  This is only an estimate. 

Your application must be reviewed by DHS staff at the Family Community Resource Center.  If you apply for benefits and are eligible, you will receive a notice of your eligibility.

Income

A household might be eligible to receive SNAP benefits if their monthly gross income does not exceed the gross income limits shown below.

Households without Disabled or Elderly Persons (age 60 or over) Maximum Monthly Income Allowable

Household Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Gross Monthly Income Limit (130% FPL) $1,245 $1,681 $2,116 $2,552 $2,987 $3,423 $3,858 $4,294 $4,730 $5,166

For household with more than 10 persons, add $436 for each additional person.  (Updated 10/1/2013)

Age 60 & Over or Disabled Households Maximum Monthly Income Allowable

Household Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Gross Monthly Income Limit (For those Age 60 or older OR Disabled)
(200% FPL)
$1,915 $2,585 $3,255 $3,925 $4,595 $5,265 $5,935 $6,605 $7,275 $7,945

For each elderly and disabled household with more than 10 persons, add $670 for each additional person. (Updated 10/1/2013)

Who can't receive SNAP Benefits?

Federal rules say some people can't get SNAP benefits regardless of the amount of their income.  For example, most boarders, certain non-citizens, most strikers, and people who live in certain institutions.

How much does someone get each month?

The monthly SNAP Benefit amount depends on the number of people in the "SNAP unit" and the monthly income available to meet needs after the caseworker subtracts the allowable deductions (such as rent and utilities) from gross income. The chart below shows the highest monthly benefit by household size. Depending on income, this amount could be less.

Are there more rules?

Yes. Here are some other rules to consider.

  • We expect people who can work to try and do so.
  • We may ask for proof of certain information.
  • Changes in a person's situation must be reported. 
  • Eligibility is reviewed from time to time.

How are the services provided?

Benefits are provided on the Illinois Link Card - an electronic card that is accepted at most grocery stores. The program is managed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Department of Human Services administers the program in Illinois. 

What services are offered?

SNAP benefits can be used to buy:

  • any food or food product for human consumption,
  • seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food.

SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy:

  • Hot foods ready to eat,
  • Food intended to be heated in the store,
  • Lunch counter items or foods to be eaten in the store,
  • Vitamins or medicines,
  • Pet foods,
  • Any nonfood items (except seeds and plants),
  • Alcoholic beverages,
  • Tobacco

How to apply?

See Apply for SNAP, Cash, or Medical Assistance to learn how to apply.

Emergency Benefits

Emergency SNAP Benefits are benefits that are ready in 5 days or less from the date you apply. 

Report a Change of Information

If you receive SNAP benefits, see the Change of Information: Address, Income or Assets page for instructions on what changes to report and how to report. 

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  • 1-800-843-6154
  • 1-800-447-6404 TTY