The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has implemented its Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) plan which was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2021-2022 school year. As a part of this approved plan's implementation, many eligible Illinois students will be receiving a white Illinois P-EBT card in the mail with their name printed on the card.
IDHS has been working closely with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to ensure names of eligible students have been issued P-EBT cards in a timely manner. IDHS would like to address the issuance of these cards, as Illinois families might have questions if they have received a card and had no expectation of its arrival. If your child has received their card, IDHS would like to assure Illinois families that these cards were issued intentionally and generated based on certain eligibility criteria.
Here are some commonly asked questions about P-EBT food benefits for Illinois residents:
What is P-EBT?
- Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) provides benefits to children who receive free or reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). P-EBT is a temporary food benefit program operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT only provides benefits for days that students are remote learning or E-learning, but without being offered a meal at school, or home for an approved COVID-related absence. P-EBT provides a daily rate of $7.10 for the 2021/2022 school year.
- Please note that if you are unsure about the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch program and have questions regarding your school's participation please visit the ISBE website at www.isbe.net/pebt
Who is eligible for P-EBT benefits?
Your child and your school must meet certain criteria to be eligible for P-EBT:
- Must be enrolled in free or reduced-price school meals at a school operating the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); OR,
- Must be enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which offers breakfast and lunch free to all students; AND,
- Must be without access to an in-school provided meal.
- Must operate the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); AND,
- Must have been closed or operating Remote Learning for at least 5 consecutive days at some point during the 2021-2022 school year. Illinois has established statewide eligibility for this criteria for the 2021-2022 school year.
The Attendance Day:
- Must be an approved absence without access to an in-school provided meal (attendance status of Excused Absence, E-Learning, or Remote Learning). And
- The missed access was due to a COVID-related reason.
- COVID related reason (Identified as COVID-related):
- If student missed 5 or more days in a single month, IDHS may identify all missed days in that month are due to a COVID-related reason and IDHS would systematically issue benefits for all days in that month.
- If a student has a "Remote Learning" attendance day, IDHS may identify that missed day is due to a COVID-related reason and IDHS will systematically issue benefits for all Remote Learning attendance days for eligible students.
- COVID related reason (Not Identified as COVID-related):
- If IDHS is unable to identify the missed access attendance day is due to a COVID-related reason as described above; then customer attestation is required to verify those missed access days are COVID- related
How do I submit a School Year 2021-2022 COVID-Related Attestation?
For attendance days that IDHS was unable to identify missed access was due to COVID-related reason, customer attestation is required.
- You will receive a notice detailing any additional attendance days be month that you may attest are COVID-related. IDHS can only issue benefits for the number of days included in that notice.
- Attestations for the 2021-2022 school year will only be accepted through 05/31/2023.
Attestation can be accepted via:
- Electronically: customers can submit an electronic COVID attestation form School Year 2021-2022 COVID-Related Absence Attestation;
- Verbally: via the P-EBT Hotline at 1-833-621-0737
- In the event a phone or online services are unavailable, an attestation form can be mailed to: P-EBT Unit, PO BOX 19401, Springfield, IL 62762.
How are benefits from Attestation issued?
- P-EBT benefits that cannot be systematically issued will have to be manually authorized by staff once the required information is received.
- Attestations will not be accepted after 05/31/2023, but processing will continue through completion. All P-EBT benefits for the 2021-2022 school year must be available to the customer no later than 9/30/2023. No P-EBT benefits can be issued 10/1/2023 or after.
- Workers can only authorize benefits for attendance days that the in-school meal is missed due to a COVID-related reason and the school has reported are potentially eligible.
- When processing customer attestations, the worker will authorize benefits separately for each benefit month. The total number of days in a month the worker will authorize P-EBT benefits will be the lesser of:
- Number of days the household has attested are COVID related missed access for the month in addition to any Remote Learning days for that month; or
- Number of days the school, via ISBE, has reported are potentially eligible attendance days.
How do I get P-EBT benefits? Do I need to apply?
If your child was enrolled to receive free or reduced-price school meals at an NSLP participating school in the prior school year (2021-2202) AND your address is up-to-date:
- You will receive a notice of eligibility in the mail detailing any potential P-EBT benefits your child is eligible for.
- While applications are not required to receive P-EBT benefits, some benefits will require COVID-related attestations in order to receive benefits for those days. See How do I submit a School Year 2021-2022 COVID-Related Attestation for details on submitting.
- Benefits will be issued on the same EBT account/card that Summer P-EBT benefits were issued. If you haven't used your card in the last 60 days, a new card may be mailed to you. You can check the status of your card by calling 1-800-678-LINK(5465) and entering your card number.
- New cards will be mailing beginning March 2023. Cards will continue to be mailed as students and parent attestations are received.
- Cards will arrive in an unmarked envelope so please be on the lookout. Keep that card, as any future P-EBT benefits will be loaded to that card for each student.
When will P-EBT benefits be issued?
Some benefits can be issued systematically for August 2021 through June 2022 for the qualifying attendance days that IDHS could assume were COVID-related absences. If IDHS cannot identify the absence is COVID-related, COVID-related attestation is required by the customer.
- In March 2023, families will receive a distribution for the months of August 2021 through June 2022 for all qualifying attendance days that IDHS could assume were COVID-related.
- In March 2023 through May 2023, IDHS will accept COVID-related attestation from the households for any attendance days reported by the school as potentially P-EBT eligible. The potentially eligible days can be found on the Notice of Eligibility for P-EBT Benefits sent to households.
- The attestations will be processed in the order received and benefits must be issued by 09/30/2023.
- The distribution of benefits in March 2023 for systematic issuances is below:
|First Letter of Child's Last Name
||Benefit Availability Date in March
|D, E, F
|J, K, L
|N, O, P
Availability dates of P-EBT benefits resulting from attestation will be based on the date the attestation is processed by IDHS.
I am worried about receiving P-EBT because of my immigration status. Will getting this benefit count in a public charge test?
Do I need to apply for P-EBT for the 2021-2022 school year?
- No. You do not need to apply for P-EBT for SY2021-2022 benefits, but you must make sure your child is enrolled in free or reduced-price meals, if eligible, and that your address is up to date with your school. Your child is eligible for P-EBT for days where they did not have access to in-school meals.
In the 2020-2021 school year I received P-EBT benefits. Will the benefits for the 2021-2022 school year be loaded onto the same P-EBT card?
- Yes. However, if you have not used that card for an extended period of time, a new card may be mailed to you.
In the 2020-2021 school year I received P-EBT benefits, but I threw away or lost my P-EBT card. Can I still get benefits?
- Yes. If you have not used your card in an extended period of time, it is likely a new card has been mailed to you. But, if you need a new card, you can order a new card by calling 1-800-678-LINK (5465) or www.link.illinois.gov
If I'm currently receiving SNAP and have a Link Card, can P-EBT benefits be loaded on the card?
- No. You will receive a new EBT card with the student's name on the card specifically for P-EBT.
My child is attending school in a hybrid model where they are in the classroom some days and learning remote some days. Are they eligible for P-EBT?
- Yes. If your child attends a school that participated in the NSLP in 2021-2022, they will systematically receive a benefit amount based on the number of days that they are without access to a meal at school and IDHS could assume was COVID-related.
- If IDHS was unable to identify the missed access was COVID-related, then the household attestation is required before benefits can be issued School Year 2021-2022 COVID-related Absence Attestation to confirm the COVID-related absences for your student.
How do I know if my school is eligible (participates in the National School Lunch Program)?
- A listing of NSLP schools can be found on the ISBE website.
- Additionally, on the IDHS P-EBT General Inquiry Request form, only P-EBT eligible schools are listed. If your school is not listed here, that school does not qualify for P-EBT.
- For the 2021-2022 School Year, Parents are required to report any days your child missed school due to a COVID-related absence. These absences were not confirmed by the schools. To confirm the COVID related absence for your student see School Year 2021-2022 COVID-Related Absence Attestation.
I think my child is eligible for free or reduced-price meals, but we haven't enrolled. Can I still get P-EBT?
- Applications for free or reduced-price meals for the 2021-2022 school year were taken through 07/31/2022
How do I know if my child is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch?
My child received free or reduced-price school meals, but I did not receive a P-EBT card in the mail. Who do I contact?
- Make sure your school is eligible for P-EBT, check the listing on ISBE (www.isbe.net/pebt)
- Benefit cards will be mailed in March 2023. Additional Cards will be mailed each month for any new student information that is received.
- For any questions, please call the toll-free P-EBT Helpline number at 1-833-621-0737 from 8:30 am to 5:00 PM, Monday thru Friday, excluding state holidays.
I received P-EBT benefits for my child, but I do not need nor want them. What do I do?
If you do not want to use the P-EBT benefits your child is eligible for, you have 2 options:
- Simply do not use the benefits. Benefits will remain available to you for 1 year. If you do not use the benefits, we will remove the benefits from the card after 1 year. However, if your circumstances change over the next year, and you need the benefits, you can use them.
- You can request that the benefits be removed from your account right away. Once we verify your identity, you can authorize this verbally on the phone (1-833-621-0737) or use the DHS P-EBT General Inquiry Request and select the subject of "Voluntary Return of P-EBT benefits." However, once benefits are removed, they will not be reissued if your circumstances change.
My child didn't get P-EBT in the 2020-2021 school year. Can I apply now and still get P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year?
- No. You cannot get P-EBT benefits for the 2020-2021 school year. However, you may be eligible to receive benefits retroactively to the start of this school year (August 2021) if your child was attending an eligible school and without access to an in-school meal.
If my child receives P-EBT, can I still get food pantry benefits?
- Yes. Your participation in government programs does not affect your ability to get food from the food pantry.
What if I don't have a safe mailing address for the card or I'm homeless?
- We can coordinate with your school to mail the card to the school address and you can pick up the card there. You will be asked to sign a form when you pick up your card.
How do I Use and Manage my P-EBT Card?
- To learn how to check you P-EBT balance, report a lost or stolen card, or to request a replacement card, visit Manage My Illinois Link Card.
How do I change my address?
- If you already received your P-EBT Link Card, and need to update your address; you may do so using the LINK hotline at 1-800-678-5465. If needed, you can order a new card at that time as well.
- If you have not received your P-EBT Link Card, but have been told you are eligible, you can request an address change online at P-EBT Change of Address Form.
- If you have an existing case for SNAP, Cash or Medical benefits, use Manage My Case (MMC) to report your change of address or call the LINK hotline at 1-800-678-5465.
Does the P-EBT cards have expiration dates?
- The P-EBT cards never expire. However, you can be deactivated after an extended period of time with no activity.
- Benefits will be available on the card for 274 days of the benefit being available AND 274 days of no activity. Both conditions must be met before we remove the unused benefits.
Do we need to use all the benefit before any new benefit is issued?
- No. You do not need to use all the benefits in order for your next benefit to be issued.