This page was created as a guide to help you understand your eligibility and assist you in applying for food stamp benefits for yourself, a client, or someone you know. Only Department of Human Services (DHS) and Health and Family Services (HFS) caseworkers can determine eligibility in order to grant SNAP benefits.
How to Determine Eligibility and Food Stamp Amount
Step 1: Determine SNAP unit members (number of immediate family members in household that are citizen or LPR for 5+ years) and income level using the most current SNAP income eligibility guidelines, which can be found on the IDHS website: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30357. If income is $1 over the limit, the case is automatically denied, but if income is at or below the limit, move to Step 2.
Step 2: Deductions: look at necessary expenses – rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, water, phone, in some cases child care.
Step 3: Determine the amount of money left over after necessary expenses to determine a food stamps benefit.
Number of People
in Your Household
Maximum Gross Monthly Income
(Age 60 and Over or Disabled)
Each additional person add $414 - $637 SNAP Program
*If a person in the food stamp unit is older than 60 years, disabled, or blind, then income limits are higher and medical expenses are counted for these people.
How to Determine Eligibility for Mixed-Status Families
Prorating Income: How do I calculate eligibility for mixed status households, when not everyone in the family is a qualifying member for SNAP benefits?
The chart below provides the SNAP income limits for citizens or qualifying members.
|Family Members||Monthly Household Income Limit (before taxes and deductions)|
But for mixed status families, these same income limits do not apply.
For mixed status families, the gross monthly income is prorated when the nonqualifying parent is the one earning the income. To prorate the gross monthly income, take the total income divided by total family members. Then multiply that amount by the qualifying members. Use this prorated amount to qualify the family based on the income limit for the qualifying members.
Example 1) Below are the calculations for a family of 5 with 3 qualifying members and 2 nonqualifying members. The family has a gross monthly income of $2000 that the nonqualifying parent earns.
$2,000 monthly income
÷ 5 Total Family Members
$400 per family member
$400 per family member
X 3 qualifying members
$1,200 income for 3 people
Since $1,200 is below the limit of $1,984 for three people, this family may qualify for SNAP benefits.
Example 2) Here is another similar scenario with a slight difference that completely changes the outcome for SNAP eligibility. The family of 5 with 3 qualifying members and 2 nonqualifying members. The family has a gross monthly outcome of $2000 that the qualifying parent earns.
Since the parent who makes the income does qualify for benefits, their income is not prorated. SNAP policy (PM 05-03-03) states that the nonqualifying member’s income is the only one that is prorated. Therefore, this family unfortunately does not qualify for SNAP benefits because their $2000 gross income is over the limit of $1,984 for three people.
To read more about the policy, please refer to DHS Policy Manual and Workers’ Action Guide: PM & WAG 05-03-03.
SNAP Frequently Asked Questions
Who does the SNAP “unit” include?
The SNAP unit includes everybody in the household that purchases and prepares food together and eats together. Separate SNAP unit status can only be granted if the living quarters are totally separate with no shared living space.
Can noncitizens apply for food stamps?
Adult legal permanent residents qualify for food stamps if they have lived in the United States as legal permanent residents for 5 or more years and meet income standards. Children under 18 years of age and persons receiving disability-related services qualify for food assistance if they are legal permanent residents, regardless of how many years they have been a legal permanent resident. If you are undocumented, you are personally ineligible for Food Stamps.
What is the process for applying for SNAP benefits?
Applicants must complete a multi-purpose application that permits a person to apply for cash, medical or Food Stamps. This application is also used to apply for Expedited or Emergency Food Stamps. An interview is required and will be scheduled within 14 days of receipt of the application.
What steps should be taken when I believe that a client has been unfairly denied food stamps or given a significantly lower amount than deserved when compared to other clients with similar eligibility?
If you are unhappy about something IDHS has done, you should spend no more than a day or two trying to work it out with the caseworker or the supervisor. File a Notice of Appeal form within 90 days after the date on the notice. I f benefits want to be continued, you must file the appeal in 10 days of the date of the notice, or within 10 days of the date that the change will occur. If you or your client didn't ever receive a notice, you can file an appeal at any time. Include 1-2 sentences that explain why you are appealing and mark if you want to continue receiving benefits during the appeal process. Take, fax or mail the Notice of Appeal to your local IDHS office, and keep a copy in your own files. You will eventually receive notice of a pre-hearing conference. At the pre-hearing conference, you meet with the caseworker and his/her supervisor. The initial decision will either be overturned, which retroactively affects benefits, or the initial decision will stay.
Food Stamps can be appealed by calling 1-800-435-0774.