SI CHI01801.001 Illinois Food Stamp Program (RTN 407 -- 04/2007)
A. Program Description
The Food Stamp Program helps low-income households buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet. The Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture manages the program. The Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the program in Illinois.
B. Who Is Eligible?
Most households with low income can receive food stamp benefits. The most important factors, which determine the amount of and eligibility for, food stamp benefits are:
Income and expenses;
The number of persons who live and eat together; and
The amount of available liquid assets, such as money in checking and savings accounts.
C. Who Can't Receive Food Stamps?
Federal rules state that some individuals can't receive food stamps regardless of the amount of their income and resources; such as most boarders, certain non-citizens, most strikers, and people who live in certain institutions.
D. What Services Are Offered?
Food stamp benefits can be used to buy any food or food product for human consumption, plus seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food. Food stamp benefits cannot be used to buy:
Hot foods ready to eat and food intended to be heated in the store;
Lunch counter food items to be eaten in the store;
Vitamins or medicines;
Any nonfood items (except seeds and plants); or
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
A household might be eligible to receive food stamps if their monthly income does not exceed the gross monthly limits published by DHS.
Most households are not eligible if they have resources greater than $2,000 ($3,000 if someone is age 60 or older.) Items such as an applicant's home, jewelry, and other personal items, are not counted as resources for food stamp purposes.
G. Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)
Effective November 1997, the Illinois LINK system became the statewide distribution system for cash and food stamp benefits. LINK is an electronic system that allows someone to use a plastic card, similar to a bankcard, at grocery store terminals and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Approximately 500,000 clients now use the LINK card to access their benefits across the state, while approximately 7,000 retailers accept the LINK card for food purchases. A person uses the card to authorize transfers from their benefit account to a retailer account to pay for products received.
H. Food Stamp Questions for SSI Claimants
Two food stamp questions must be asked when completing either a SSI application or redetermination. The two questions are:
Are you currently receiving food stamps or has a food stamp application been filed for you within the past 60 days on which there has not been a decision?
If "No," do you wish to apply for food stamps?
The response to the questions are used to help determine whether to take no further action in connection with eligibility for food stamps, to take an application for food stamps, or to refer the claimant to the social service agency to apply for food stamps.
The food stamp questions are included on the SSA-8000BK, SSA-8203BK, and SSA-8202F6. The questions are not contained on the SSA-8202-OCR. SI 02305.809 indicates that the food stamp questions should not be asked when a SSA-8202-OCR is completed without SSA staff assistance. However, when a SSA-8202-OCR is completed by phone or the claimant contacts the district/branch office for assistance, use the preprinted SSA-795 (Statement of Claimant or Other Person) which contains the questions.
I. State of Illinois Food Stamp Application
The State of Illinois Food Stamp Application Form (IL444-0683) is designed to collect and evaluate eligibility for food stamps. Most questions on the application are self-explanatory and require "Yes" or "No" answers. If the applicant does not know the answer to a question, enter a question mark (?) to let the food stamp worker know further development is needed.
The IL444-0683 can only be completed by and/or for households eligible to file for food stamps at a SSA office under joint processing procedures (SI 01801.005). If a member of the public who is not eligible to file for food stamps in a SSA office (e.g., not a member of a pure SSI household) indicates a desire to file for food stamps, the individual should be referred to the local food stamp office.
J. Application/Recertificaton Process
When a SSI applicant and/or recipient files for food stamps in a SSA office, the SSA interviewer will complete the food stamp application. Illinois uses the same application for recertification that is used in the initial certification of food stamp eligibility. In completing the application the SSA interviewer should answer the questions as the food stamp applicant would if he/she were filling out the form. The interviewer will accept the applicant's allegation unless the information provided is questionable or verification of an item is required (SI 01801.300).
K. Exhibit I – IL444-0683 (Application for Food Stamps)
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L. Exhibit II – IL444-0683S (Application for Food Stamps)
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1. Page 1 - Household Information
Complete this section with information regarding the applicant's household and citizenship status. Be sure to include a phone number where the applicant may be reached during normal working hours. If the household does not have a residence street address, write in sufficient information to allow a food stamp worker to find the residence.
2. Page 2 - Living Arrangement
This page covers the household's living arrangement, ethnic group and composition.
3. Page 3 - Personal Information
This page covers the household's residence, work provisions, and student status.
4. Page 4 – Resources and Income
Resources must be identified on the application in sufficient detail to permit verification by the food support agency. Resources available to the household during the entire month are used to determine eligibility. A SSI household is deemed to meet the resource requirements. It is not necessary to verify the resources of a SSI household. However, the resource questions on the application must be completed to permit the food stamp agency to verify resources at a later date if it becomes necessary (i.e., individual ceases to be eligible for SSI).
All sources of income must be listed on the application. Request that the applicant submit verification of all monthly income. It is not necessary to send copies of documents that are available in SSA files to the food support office. Annotating the SSA-4233 (Social Security Administration Transmittal for Food Support Applications) (SI 01801.310) that evidence is in SSA files will satisfy the documentation requirement.
5. Pages 5 - 6 - Expenses
This section captures expenses for all household members.
Shelter -- When calculating the household's monthly income, certain deductions are made for shelter costs. Shelter costs include mortgage or rental payments, utilities, property taxes, home insurance and, if alleged, charges for repairs to a home incurred as a result of fire or a natural disaster (if not reimbursed by private or public relief agencies, insurance companies, or from any other source) and the cost of maintaining an unoccupied home while the owner is temporarily absent. Enter all expenses requested by this section. The food stamp office will determine the amount of allowable shelter cost deductions.
Utilities -- The State of Illinois has four utility standards that must be used as part of the shelter cost deduction instead of actual household utility expenses if the household qualifies. If billed for utilities, a food stamp unit is allowed one of the following:
Air Conditioning/Heating Standard
If billed for electricity that includes air conditioning or heat, or if billed for heat that is not electric.
Limited Utility Standard
If billed for at least two utilities. The expense may not be for heat or air conditioning. It may include a telephone expense.
Single Utility Standard
If billed for a single utility expense that is not for a telephone, air conditioning, or heat.
If billed only for a telephone, including cell phone. The expense must be for a basic phone service.
Medical -- One of the medical expenses that are deductible is the cost of transportation for medical treatment or services. In completing the medical transportation cost item on the application, use either the actual cost as alleged by the applicant or the State of Illinois reimbursement rate of $0.24 per mile multiplied by the total mileage for a private automobile when the applicant alleges that a household member drives to the doctor/hospital.
If there is an approved representative present at the interview and that individual did not sign the signature line, he/she should sign here.
6. Page 7 - Signature
The applicant should read the application prior to signing.
7. Pages 8 - 9 - Tear off Page
These pages provide the food stamp applicant with reporting responsibilities, rights and responsibilities, and the penalty warning.