Getting Public Benefits

1.  Take a Quick Survey - You may find out what public benefits and assistance you are eligible for by completing an online questionnaire at This survey is confidential and will help you identify Federal and State Benefit Programs for which you may qualify. For all of these programs, you will need to get the required forms of identification.  You can also look at the Chicago Jobs Council's document, "Get the Facts: Public Benefits that Can Help You with Basic Living Costs" in either English or Spanish.

2.  Social SecurityIf you may be eligible, it is important that you apply immediately for Social Security .  You may find out about this program on the Social Security website at  In some cases, you may be able to apply for a disability determination while still in custody if you work closely with your field service worker. Social Security can come on site to the Prison to begin an application prior to release. After release, you may call 1-800-772-1213, you can speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

3. Illinois Public Assistance and Food Stamps - Most households with low income can get food stamp benefits. The Food Stamp Program helps low-income individuals and families buy the food they need for good health. You apply for benefits by completing an application form. Benefits are provided on the Link Card -- an electronic card that is accepted at most grocery stores. For more information about eligibility and the application process, click here.

4. Paying for Medication and Health Care - Even if you do not have money, there are several places to get health care. Illinois Medicaid and Federal Social Security can pay for health care costs if you are eligible.  Apply for social security at their office if you have a disability or are above the age of 65. Ask about Medicaid at the same office as you apply for food stamps.  If you do not have any money, you may go to your local County Health Department to find local services. For medication, you may also look for resources at the Pharmaceutical Assistance website. You may also use the Illinois Benefits web site for a survey of additional resources.