Benefits for Young People

Other Programs

You may qualify for many other benefits programs. For example, if you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and are over 18, you can probably get help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and may be able to get income support from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Depending on your circumstances, two Social Security programs may give you benefits based on contributions your parents made during their careers: Child’s Benefits and Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB).

Asset-building programs, including ABLE accounts and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can help you save up money without losing benefits you get that have income and resource limits.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program helps you pay for food by giving you a plastic card, called an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, that looks and works like a debit card. Illinois puts money on the EBT card each month and you use it to buy food. To qualify for SNAP benefits, you must have low income.

Learn more in DB101's SNAP article.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF gives money to families with low income and low resources who don't have enough to pay for basic needs, like food, clothing, and rent. For TANF, a family is one or two parents living with their child or children under 18. The age limit is 19 for children who are in school full-time. A family can include biological kids, step-kids, adopted kids, and children of relatives.

Learn more in DB101's TANF article.

Apply for Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, or other programs

You can apply for Medicaid, the Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HBWD), SNAP, TANF, and other programs:

The ABE website answers frequently asked questions, including explaining what information you'll need to fill out an application.

Child’s Benefits (only if you are under 19)

The most common way for adults to get Social Security benefits, like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or retirement benefits, is to work and pay into Social Security’s trust fund.

For young people, however, another common way to get Social Security benefits is to qualify for Child’s Benefits. You don't need to have a disability to qualify for Child’s Benefits. To get them, you must:

  • Be under the age of 18 (or 19 if you’re attending high school or other secondary education)
  • Not be married, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

You get Child's Benefits in any month your parent gets a Social Security disability or retirement benefit, or if your parent is deceased and would have qualified for benefits. For example, if your parent is in SSDI's Trial Work Period, you keep getting Child's Benefits, but during the Extended Period of Eligibility, you only get a Child's Benefit in any month your parent gets SSDI benefits. Make sure to tell Social Security if your family is in this situation.

You can apply for Child’s Benefits at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Learn more about Child's Benefits or talk to a benefits expert.

Childhood Disability Benefits (only if you are 18 or older)

If you have a disability, you may qualify to get money each month through the Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) program. CDB is based on your parent’s work record.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have a disability since before you turned 22 that meets Social Security's adult definition of disability
  • Not be married, unless your spouse also gets SSDI or CDB, and
  • Have a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or SSDI. If your parent is deceased, you may also qualify.

You don’t automatically get CDB when you turn 18. You can apply for it at your local Social Security office or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

If you get CDB, you can also get health coverage through Medicare after a 24-month waiting period.

Learn more about CDB in DB101's SSDI article.

Asset-Building Programs

Instead of sending you money or paying for your health expenses, asset-building programs help you save up your own money so that you can afford to pay for future expenses, such as education, buying a car, or even retirement.

ABLE Accounts Help You Build More Assets

ABLE accounts let people who have disabilities that began before they turned 26 keep money in a special tax-advantaged account. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account doesn't count against the $2,000 SSI resource limit, and none of the money in an ABLE account counts for Medicaid.

Learn more about ABLE Accounts in DB101's ABLE Building Your Assets and Wealth article.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) give money to low- to moderate- income workers and families. Even people who don’t make enough to owe income taxes may qualify for this tax credit.

To qualify, you must have income from employment, self-employment, or employer-paid disability benefits and you must file your taxes!

The amount you get from your EITCs depends on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), whether you are married, and the number of children you have. For 2024 (filing taxes by April 2025), the federal EITC ranges from $2 to $7,830.

The Illinois EITC is 20% of the Federal EITC, or $0 to $1,566. For example, if your federal EITC is $4,000, your Illinois EITC is $800.

Note: If your income is too high, you don't qualify for the EITC credits.

File your taxes!

To get the Earned Income Tax Credit, you need to file your federal and state taxes, even if you owe nothing. Make sure to complete the “Schedule EIC” as well. Lots of people don’t get the EITC because they don’t know they could.

If you need help filing your taxes, get in touch with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) center. With VITA, certified volunteers help prepare your taxes and make sure you get any credits you qualify for. Most sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Find a local VITA center or call 1-800-906-9887.

For more details, read DB101’s Tax Credit page.

Learn more