Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Common Pitfalls

Not applying because you think you won’t get SNAP

Tens of millions of people use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to get healthy food each day. If you apply for SNAP and are approved, you get benefits to pay for groceries and other healthy food. If you apply and are denied, nothing will change in your life (you can also choose to appeal the decision with the Illinois Department of Human Services). So there’s no harm in applying and a lot of potential benefits if you are approved.

Not attending your phone or in-office interview

After you apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the DHS Family Community Resource Center notifies you that you have to schedule an interview. This is to make sure they understand your needs. The interview may be done by phone or in person.

Be sure to attend your interview or to contact your local DHS Family Community Resource Center to reschedule it if you miss it. SNAP may deny your application if you don’t complete a required interview.

Not reporting changes to your income or living situation

When you start getting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, you get instructions on how to report changes in your household and what to report, including on how to report changes online. To avoid problems with your SNAP benefits, report any changes within 10 days after the change happens. If your income changes, report it within 10 days of getting your first paycheck at the new income amount.

You can report changes:

Going to a store or restaurant that does not accept SNAP

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are used to buy food for the household to eat by using your Illinois Link Card at stores with the “Illinois link” sign or farmers markets that accept the Link Card. You are not allowed to use SNAP at most restaurants, places licensed to sell liquor, places where you can gamble, places that sell medical or retail marijuana or marijuana products, adult entertainment venues, and places whose primary business is the sale of firearms. SNAP also cannot be used to buy hot prepared foods in grocery stores.

Note: The SNAP Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) lets you use your Link card at some restaurants in specific zip codes if you are:

  • Blind or have a disability (or the spouse of someone who is blind or has a disability)
  • 60 or older (or the spouse of someone 60 or older), or
  • Experiencing homelessness.

Learn more about using the Illinois Link Card.

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