How to Determine Who Qualifies for Public Assistance in Illinois

The state of Illinois offers public assistance to families who need basics such as food, housing and medical care. Services offered to those who qualify include cash assistance, food stamps, emergency and transitional housing, mortgage and utility relief, medical programs and job training. You must meet basic criteria to qualify for services.


    • 1

      Contact the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) to find out what types of assistance are available. You can visit their website ( or call them at 1-800-843-6154. DHS offers various assistance programs including general assistance, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), food stamps (SNAP and Earnfare), food assistance to women and children (WIC), assistance to elderly and disabled people (AABD) and supportive housing and medical assistance programs.

    • 2

      Apply. To determine if you qualify for public assistance in Illinois, you must fill out an application, available through the Illinois Department of Human Services. You will be required to submit personal information such as your contact information and information about your family circumstances, such as your residence, employment and financial situation. The application can be submitted online or in person. If you are in need of immediate assistance, the process can be expedited.

    • 3

      Complete an interview with a caseworker. You will be interviewed either in person or on the phone by a DHS caseworker. You must bring a photo ID to prove your identity and Illinois residency. You must also provide proof of citizenship and Social Security numbers for each person listed on your application. You may be asked to bring other documents to help the caseworker determine your eligibility, at which time you must provide proof that you are a U.S. citizen. Non-citizens, strikers and those who live in institutions generally do not qualify for assistance.

    • 4

      Prove that you need assistance. You must explain why you need assistance, as well as show proof through requested documentation. You must meet specific income criteria to get cash or food stamps. For example, in order to qualify for food stamps, a family of four must not have an income higher than $2,389 per month. For emergency housing assistance, you must be homeless or at risk of being homeless. Medical assistance is available to children under the age of 19, pregnant women, the elderly and blind people.

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