SNAP FAQ: What Is the Illinois Link Card and How Can You Apply for Benefits?

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If you’re an Illinois resident and you’ve been approved for cash assistance — or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — then your benefits will be issued monthly via the Illinois Link Card.

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You can apply for SNAP online through the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) portal. You’ll be asked to create a new account (or log in with an existing one), and then you will need to provide as much information as possible so that the state can process the application. It takes between 30 and 45 minutes to complete an application. You’ll be contacted within 14 days for an interview with your caseworker.  

You can also apply for SNAP using a paper application, or at your local Family Community Resource Center. Use the DHS Office Locator to locate the Family Community Resource Center in your county.

Once your application has been accepted and the caseworker has started to process it, you can then access Manage My Case to track the status of your application and manage your benefits. Once you’re approved, one Illinois Link Card will be issued per account.

Make Your Money Work for You

The Illinois Link Card looks and works like a credit or debit card. This card can be used to purchase eligible food items at participating locations. When paying, swipe your card at the point of sale terminal and enter your Illinois Link Card PIN. If you’re also purchasing items not eligible for SNAP, you must pay for those separately with a different form of payment.

There are two ways to manage your Illinois Link Card: through the Illinois Link Card website or via the Illinois Link Help Line. 

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To manage your account online, the cardholder will need to enter the last four digits of their Social Security number, date of birth and card number. Call 1-800-678-LINK (5465) to manage your account through the Illinois Link Help Line. You’ll need to either provide the 16-digit or 19-digit number printed on the front of your card — or you can provide your SSN, date of birth and PIN to verify your identity. Language options are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Spanish or Urdu.

Make Your Money Work for You

Managing your Illinois Link Card allows you to change your address, check your Link account balance, report a lost or stolen card, order a replacement card, select or change your PIN, check recent activity or report a problem.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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