– Illinois EBT Card Balance –
It is the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to oversee and administer the Illinois Food Stamps Program to licensed low-income households.
It includes reviewing and approving new applications, and renewals and preventing misuse of the benefits of the assistance program.
If you are eligible for food assistance in Illinois, your benefits will be automatically deposited on an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card. The Illinois EBT card is identical to a regular ATM or debit card, also known as the Illinois Connect Card.
Using your EBT card benefits you can make accepted food purchases at qualifying retail locations. Additionally, most grocery stores in Illinois accept the Illinois Link Card.
Illinois Food Stamp Program
The Food Stamp Program is designed to help alleviate hunger and improve health and nutrition. It helps low-income households buy the food they need for a diet that’s nutritionally acceptable.
The Illinois Department of Human Services manages the program. The benefits of food stamping can be used to buy any food or food product for human consumption, plus seeds and plants for use in home gardens for food production.
Benefits are provided through The Illinois Link System, an electronic system that allows someone to use a plastic card, similar to a bank card, at grocery store terminals.
Most households with low income can get food stamp benefits. The laws are complex and not all the specifics are mentioned here.
If you plan on applying for Food Stamps, you may want to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pre-screening tool to help you estimate what you may be eligible to receive.
However, just like Benefits.gov, the USDA screening tool can not determine your eligibility. Only your local office can tell you whether you are eligible and how much you will receive.
The application process begins the day your local Department of Human Services office receives your signed application. You will be asked to come into the office for an interview, or you may be interviewed over the phone if you are unable to go to the office.
What’s the Link Card?
- 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 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.
You must be a resident of the state of Illinois for this incentive program and fall into one of two groups:
(1) those with a current bank balance (savings and checks combined) below $2.001, or
(2) those with a current bank balance (savings and checks combined) below $3.001 who share their household with an individual or persons 60 years of age or older, or with a person with a disability (a child, your spouse).
To qualify, you must have an annual household income that is less than or equal to the following amounts (before taxes):
|Annual Household Income Limits (before taxes)|
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
*For households with more than eight people, add $5,746 per additional person. Always check with the appropriate managing agency to ensure the most accurate guidelines.
Illinois EBT Payment Schedule
The Illinois EBT Card holds the food assistance benefits assigned to you each month. Your benefits will be deposited onto your EBT card according to the schedule below:
Benefits are made available on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 17th, and 20th of any month, depending on a combination of the form of case and the case name.
Recipients can obtain information about eligibility and benefit availability by calling the DHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.
After your payments are deposited into your account, you can start buying qualifying food products using your Illinois EBT card.
Stores That Take EBT Online for Delivery
As you may know, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started a pilot program (Online Purchasing Pilot) to allow select grocery stores to start accepting EBT cards online for grocery shopping, including delivery to your doorstep.
The grocery stores listed below have been approved for the pilot that will offer the ability for EBT cardholders to buy food online for delivery.
- Dash’s Market
- Hart’s Local Grocers
- Hy-Vee, Inc.
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
- Wright’s Markets, Inc
Where can’t I use my Illinois EBT Card?
You cannot use your Illinois EBT Card at the following locations:
- Poker Rooms
- Card Rooms
- Smoke & Cannabis Shops
- Adult Entertainment Businesses
- Tattoo & Piercing Shops
- Spa/Massage Salons
- Bingo Halls
- Bail Bonds
- Gun/Ammo Stores
- Cruise Ships
- Psychic Readers
Foods and Products Not Eligible for Purchase with the Illinois EBT Card
- Hot foods from deli/foods to be eaten in store
- Vitamins or medication
- Pet food
- Paper or cleaning products
- Alcohol/tobacco products.
For a full list of approved food items, see the Food Stamps Eligible Food List here.
How to Check your Illinois EBT Card Balance
There are three options for checking your Illinois Link Card balance. Here they are:
Option 1 – Locate Your Last Purchase Receipt
One of the easiest ways to check your Illinois EBT Card balance is to find the most recent purchase receipt or ATM receipt (for TANF recipients only).
At the bottom of the receipt, you will find the current balance on your card. In order to use this method to check your balance, be sure to save all of your recent Illinois Link Card receipts.
Option 2 – Check Your Link Card Balance via Phone
Another option is to check your card balance by calling the Illinois EBT Link Card Customer Service phone number at 1-800-678-5465 (LINK).
Before you call, be sure to have your EBT Card number, 4-digit PIN, and Social Security Number (SSN) ready. You must provide this information to receive your Link Card balance information.
Option 3 – Check Your Link Card Balance Online
The last option to check your balance on your Illinois Link Card is online. The Illinois Link Card website allows you to find out your EBT Card balance online.
When you are on the web, type your Social Security Number (SSN), Date of Birth, 4-digit EBT Card PIN, and/or Card Number.
Click the “Log in” button once full. Click on the button “Build User Account,” if you do not have an account. Upon clicking on the Create Account link, you will see instructions on how to create an online access account for your Illinois EBT Card.
Illinois EBT Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about the Illinois EBT Card.
How Much Will I Get on My EBT Card Each Month?
The amount of benefits you receive on your Link Card each month is determined by your income and household size.
I Have Seen People Purchase Non-food Items With an EBT card. I Thought SNAP was Only for Food?
Yes, SNAP benefits are just for food only. However, people have an EBT card for their TANF (cash assistance) benefits. You can use this TANF benefits to purchase food and non-food items.
Can I Have Someone Else Help Me Shop Using my EBT Account?
Ask your county food stamps caseworker about setting up an Authorized Representative (AR). The AR will have a separate card with his or her own account number and PIN.
The EBT system is able to track which card is used at any time. The AR will have access to your entire benefit account.
Can I Use My EBT Card in Other Counties and the Other States?
Your EBT card will work at any store or ATM in the United States that accepts EBT Cards, as well as the District of Columbia, the United States. And Guam and the Virgin Islands.
There are no rules against using your EBT card outside your home state. However, you are required to notify your local county public assistance office of any change of address.
If I Don’t Use All of the Benefits I Received this Month, will These Benefits Still be Available to me Next Month?
Yes, benefits that are not used in the month issued will stay in the EBT account. You may use these benefits in the following months.
What do I Do if I Suspect Someone Has Stolen Benefits From my EBT Link Card Account?
If you have your EBT card stolen or compromised, contact the Illinois Connect Customer Service phone number immediately.
The toll-free helpline on the Link Card is 1-800-678-LINK (5465). A customer service agent will have your Connection Card canceled and a new one shipped to you. To alert them, you should also contact your DHS caseworker, and file a police report.
How do I Buy Food and Items With My Link Card?
Here’s how to use your Link Card to purchase food items:
- Swipe your card at the store’s payment machine.
- Then select “EBT” from the card options.
- Next, enter your 4-digit PIN.
- Complete the transaction and take your receipt – it will show your current Link Card balance at the bottom.
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If you have any more questions about the Connection Card including the eligibility and application process for the Illinois SNAP, please leave them in the comments below. We ‘re just happy to assist!