A person must be allowed to complete an application. A person cannot be required to attend a meeting or orientation before they can sign an application.
An applicant with an Illinois address may file an application the following ways:
- Submit an online application through the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) portal via the DHS website at https://abe.illinois.gov/abe/access/;
- Drop off, mail or fax a paper application to a Family Community Resource Center (FCRC);
- Apply as a walk in in which the worker will complete the application with the applicant; or
- Apply over the phone by calling the ABE Customer Call Center at 1-800-843-6154 or 1-866-324-5553 TTY.
A person who wants benefits can approve someone else to apply for them. An approved representative is a person who has been given permission by a client to act on their behalf when conducting business with DHS and HFS. The approval must have either a written or an electronic signature by the person who wants the benefits.
NOTE: Power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone authority to act for another person. Unless the document says otherwise, a person with power of attorney can act as the person's approved representative for DHS purposes without any additional documentation.
For Cash or Medical, a person applying for someone who is incompetent, incapacitated, deceased, or too young to apply for themselves does not have to be an approved representative. They are acting responsibly for the person and do not need written permission. For SNAP benefits, the person must have the applicant's permission (either written or electronically signed) to act as their approved representative.
A resident of a Drug/Alcoholic Treatment Center who wants SNAP benefits must apply through an authorized representative appointed by the facility's administrator (see PM 05-01-02).
A resident of a Group Living Facility who wants SNAP benefits may have to apply through an authorized representative. The decision of whether or not to use an authorized representative is made by the facility, based on the resident's mental and physical ability to handle their own affairs (see PM 05-08-05).
The adult responsible for a child must choose which program they want if the child qualifies for TANF and Foster Care/Adoption Care Assistance.
A request for benefits may be made for:
- DCFS youth in care (formerly known as wards) returned to the home they were removed from; and
- DCFS youth in care placed in the home of a caretaker relative.
Youth in care (Wards of the Court) can apply for themselves or have a probation officer, legal guardian, or other person apply for them.
A person convicted of a criminal violation of the Public Aid Code or a similar Federal/State law may apply for assistance. But a special review of their request must be made by an Administrative Review Board (see WAG 02-04-02-e).
A 2nd criminal violation of the Illinois Public Aid Code or of any Federal/State law results in that person being permanently ineligible for cash benefits.
For AABD cash fraud convictions prior to 01/01/97, apply the policy provided in PM 03-20-00. This policy does not apply to the receipt of medical or SNAP assistance.
A person who is detained or confined in a jail, juvenile detention center or Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) facility may apply for medical benefits if they received inpatient hospital services, or as part of the discharge plan to be released to the community. For information on processing the application, see PM 03-23-01.