Apply For Illinois TANF Benefits

Learn how to apply for Illinois TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, called Illinois Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, may help you become self-supportive while receiving monthly cash benefits to meet your everyday needs such as rent, utilities, clothes, transportation, or additional expenses.

Sometimes you may not be eligible to receive TANF for yourself, but a child or children in your household may. The TANF program is administered by the Department of Human Services. In most cases, in order to qualify for TANF you must meet both types of eligibility, categorical and financial.

Additionally, to qualify for TANF there are work requirements. The IL TANF program requires most adults be employed or participate in certain work-related activities, which you will be assigned for a certain number of hours on a weekly basis in order to continue receiving TANF benefits.

The total number of hours needed to fulfill your work activity requirement depends on your family composition. Qualified state residents are required to produce information including household income, age, citizenship and resources.

Only household members who are eligible for Illinois TANF can receive welfare benefits. For more information about applying for IL TANF benefits, view the information below. If you still have questions or issues, then contact TANF Illinois.

Illinois TANF eligibility

To qualify for the Illinois TANF program, you must:

  • Be pregnant or have a child under age 19 who lives with them. A child who is 18 must be a full-time high school student. A pregnant woman (and her husband, if he lives with her) may qualify for help, even if they don't have any other children
  • Live in Illinois. You can be homeless and still qualify
  • Be a US citizen or meet certain immigration requirements
  • Develop a plan for becoming self-sufficient and follow it

The Illinois TANF program offers the following services:

  • Time-limited cash assistance for basic needs, such as food, clothing, housing, etc
  • Transitional services to help families become independent, such as GED preparation, vocational training, post-secondary education, vocational rehabilitation, classes in basic English, help with child care, work stipends, job retention services, etc
  • Screening for issues related to substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence, and referrals for
  • available services to address them

A person who gets TANF may also get medical assistance and SNAP benefits:

  • HFS Medical Assistance Programs
    DHS provides medical assistance on behalf of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS), which administers the program. A family who receives TANF also receives a MediPlan Card that covers most medical needs
  • SNAP (formerly food stamps)
    If a family who receives TANF qualifies, DHS also provides them SNAP benefits

Services that you may participate in:

  • EarnFare
  • SNAP Employment & Training Job Placement
  • TANF Job Placement
  • TANF Work First
  • Child Care
  • Housing
  • Pregnancy & Parenting
  • Violence & Abuse Prevention

Applying for Illinois TANF

A person may apply for Illinois TANF online or at a local office that serves the area where they live. To find a location, search for a DHS Office nearby. A person who applies and is determined eligible for benefits receives their cash and SNAP benefits through Illinois Link Benefits card. This is an EBT (Electronic benefit transfer) card that can be used like a normal bank card.

Applying online

To apply for Illinois TANF benefits online, use the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE).

Applying by downloading application

To apply by paper, click here to download the Illinois TANF application form. Follow the directions on the form. Type in as much information as you can. It's OK if you can't answer all the questions. You must include your name and address.

You may print out the application and write on it if you prefer and you must sign the form. Once you've completed the application, carry, mail or fax it to your local Family Community Resource Center. View a list of Illinois DHS offices to find one near you.

Once you submit your application, the process begins the day your DHS office receives your signed application. You will be asked to come to the office for an interview or participate by phone if you are unable to come to the office. You will be asked for various types of documents such as:

  • Proof of your identity
  • Proof of your residence
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all people on your application
  • Other types of documents depending on your circumstances

The DHS caseworker will tell you what you need to bring. If you have questions or issues about applying for Illinois TANF benefits, then contact the Illinois Department of Human Services.

I was denied TANF benefits. What can I do?

State and local agencies are responsible for establishing the eligibility criteria and procedures that apply in their programs, not the Federal government. If you disagree with a decision regarding welfare benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. For more information about your state's appeals procedures, contact the IL TANF office.