Keeping track of all the EBT information out there can be overwhelming. So, we’ve broken down all the basics in one handy guide.
If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, let us know.
The Link Card is Illinois’s EBT card.
EBT = electronic benefits transfer.
EBT card = a card that looks and works like a debit or credit card but is loaded with food stamps (also known as SNAP benefits) and/or cash benefits. You can use it at stores that accept EBT.
You’ll get the Link Card once you’re approved for benefits.
Illinois’s EBT customer service number is 1-800-678-5465.
That period is 12 months for most Illinois households.
You’ll get a letter in the mail when it’s time to reapply. To be safe, you could also put a note in your calendar or wherever you keep important reminders.
You can renew your benefits online with an ABE account.
If you’d rather renew in person, call your caseworker, local office (select “Family Community Resource Center” from the “Office Type” dropdown), or the Illinois SNAP hotline (1-800-843-6154) to find out how.
You should report:
- If anyone moves in or out of your household.
- Financial changes like income, rent, savings, or child support.
- Work changes. Does your household include an adult who doesn’t have a disability or a child (what the government calls an ABAWD)? Is this person required to work or train 20 hours/week? Then you should report if this person starts working or training less than 20 hours/week.
Most households have to report all changes no more than 10 days after they happen, but some don’t. Your caseworker can confirm which rules apply to your household.
If you are moving, you should report your new address ASAP to make sure you don’t miss any important letters.
You can report changes online with an ABE account.
If you can’t find your EBT card, call the Illinois EBT hotline as soon as you can: 1-800-678-5465.
If someone manages to use your card, you won’t be able to get those benefits back, so make sure you call right away!
You can use food stamps to buy groceries, snacks, and seeds or plants that will produce food.
You can’t use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, live animals, prepared foods, or any non-food household items.
WIC food packages typically include cereal, juice, eggs, milk, peanut butter, dried and canned beans, tofu, fruits and vegetables, and whole-wheat bread. WIC packages also include canned fish and cheese for breastfeeding moms, and baby food for babies.
Once your child is born, your household size will increase. More household members = more benefits.
While you are pregnant, you can’t get more food stamps, but you can apply for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits.
WIC provides food and resources for pregnant women, new parents, and children up to 5 years old.
If you have a child who’s 18 or younger, you may qualify for cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
TANF provides monthly cash assistance to help families with children get by during tough times.