SNAP, formerly called food stamps, is a U.S. Department of Agriculture anti-hunger program that boosts the food budget of low-income households. The Department of Human Services (DHS) administers SNAP in Illinois, and participants can expect their benefit payments to be deposited monthly according to the same schedule.
According to the Illinois DHS, most low-income households qualify for SNAP. Eligibility is based on income, expenses and the number of people in the household. Benefits are deposited onto the Illinois Link Card, the state’s version of the EBT card. Link Cards are sent to your address once approved for benefits from the DHS.
Illinois residents can apply for SNAP online through the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) portal. Paper applications can be downloaded from the DHS website and carried, mailed or faxed to your local Family Community Resource Center.
Here is the Illinois Link Card March 2023 deposit schedule for new cases on the Illinois Link system:
|IES head of household individual number ends in:
|Newly approved case benefit availability dates:
Your monthly SNAP schedule depends on the last number of your case number. If you had a SNAP case converted from a legacy case, you will keep your legacy availability date of either the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 17th or 20th.
Benefits for new cases go out between the 1st and 10th of every month. The date you receive benefits depends on the last digit of the head of household’s ID number. Regular roll benefits are available by 3:00 a.m. on the same monthly date.
The Illinois Link Card is accepted at over 9,000 retailers, including most grocery stores, in Illinois. If you’re unsure whether or not SNAP is accepted, look for a display of the Illinois Link card or a sign that says “Illinois Link accepted here.” Link Cards may be used at certified farmers’ markets for additional savings. The Link Up Illinois program matches benefits dollar for dollar, up to $25, if you use your Link Card to purchase fresh fruits and veggies at participating markets.
According to the USDA, SNAP can be used to purchase:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Breads and cereals
- Snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat
SNAP benefits include additional perks, too, like discounts on certain products and services. For example, Illinois SNAP recipients can sign up for an Amazon Prime EBT discounted subscription for 50% off and receive free or low-cost landline or cell phone service through the federal Lifeline program. Your Link card can also be used for free or discounted admission to hundreds of museums, aquariums and zoos nationwide.
Illinois participates in the Restaurant Meals Program, which allows participants to use their Link Card to purchase hot meals at some restaurants. Not every restaurant is part of RMP, so make sure to call and ask before purchasing with your Link Card. If you qualify for the Illinois RMP, you can purchase hot meals at participating restaurants using your Link Card. Among the items you can’t buy with SNAP benefits are alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals and nonfood items.
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