Public aid in Illinois encompasses financial, medical, and other types of assistance provided to low income families and individuals in certain circumstances. More specifically, public aid might cover food expenses, household expenses like rent and utility bills, various types of medical expenses, and certain emergency expenses like funeral costs. In order to qualify for these services, the family or individual must meet certain income requirements, along with other conditions.
Public aid in the state of Illinois is managed by The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). This agency is responsible for managing the health insurance program (Medicaid) and handling child support enforcement. Plus, the agency oversees the Office of Energy Assistance. HFS also maintains the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), but the OIG is a separate entity and reports directly to the governor. The food stamp program is managed by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
When applying for public aid assistance in the state of Illinois, certain documents are required. One should be prepared to present a driver's license or state issued identification card, Medicare card (if applicable), social security card, and birth certificate or other legal proof of age. Plus, if one is not a legal citizen of the United States, one should present proof of legal residency. If widowed, proof of one's spouse's death must be provided, and if divorced or legally separated, a divorce decree or separation agreement.
In addition to identification documents, a person applying for public aid should be prepared to submit proof of financial status. This can include any life insurance policies and proof of value, bank statements and other income statements (like Social Security or pay check stubs), and any other income information. Income tax records for the previous 3 years should also be provided. Plus, one is required to present proof of ownership or sale for any real estate owned within the previous 36 months. Additional documents are required in certain cases.
Medicaid is an insurance program funded by the state which is afforded to families and individuals based primarily on need. The Illinois Medicaid Program has two primary programs, including the families and children assistance program and standard medical assistance program. The All Kids Program was rolled out in 2006 and is a first in the United States. This program offers reasonably priced medical insurance to any child who is uninsured based on a sliding scale. There is also a Moms and Babies program for pregnant women and their infants. Inclusion in the programs is based on specific requirements. For example, the Moms and Babies program covers women with incomes as high as 200 percent of poverty level, while standard Medicaid requires that patients are under poverty level. For example, a household with two people should make less than approximately $14,000 per year to qualify.
The Illinois Link Program is the food stamp and cash program in Illinois. This system provides beneficiaries with a card which can be used like a credit card. It is loaded each month with a predetermined amount of credit for food and a separate amount for cash if the family qualifies. The card can be used at stores which sell grocery items for food benefits and at ATM machines for cash benefits. Benefits are determined based on a family's income and expenses, as well as the number of people in the household. Liquid assets (the amount of accessible cash available through bank accounts or other sources) are also considered in qualification. Some people cannot qualify under any circumstance---such as undocumented workers and people living in certain institutions. Certain other circumstances may also prevent one from qualifying. The DHS website offers a food stamp eligibility calculator for those who wish to establish whether a family will qualify for benefits.