Illinois Department on Aging

Pat Quinn, Governor

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  Frequently Asked Questions  

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Note: Use of the word spouse also includes a civil union partner.

Do I qualify for the Benefit Access Program?

Apply on the Benefit Access Application if you meet the following requirements:

  1. Age
    • you must be 65 years of age or older before January 1 of the current year; or
    • you must become 65 years of age this year (benefits become available after you turn 65); or
    • you must be 16 years of age or older before January 1 of the current year, and qualify as disabled.

  2. Residency
    • you must live in Illinois at the time you file your application

  3. Income Limit for License Plate discount and Ride Free Transit Card:
    Your* total income last year must be less than
    • $27,610 if filing an application for yourself only; or
    • $36,635 if filing an application for yourself and your spouse*, or yourself and one Qualified Additional Resident; or
    • $45,657 if filing an application for yourself, your spouse* and at least one Qualified Additional Resident, or yourself and at least two Qualified Additional Residents.
      *You must include your spouse's income if married and living together on December 31 of last year. If your spouse died last year, you would file as single and claim only your income. Do NOT include the income of a Qualified Additional Resident.

  4. Expiration
    Benefits are good for two years under the Benefit Access Program. The two-year period starts at the time you are approved for benefits. You may file again beginning 90 days before your benefits expire.

Who qualifies as disabled? [ top ]

To qualify as disabled, you must be at least 16 years of age prior to January 1 of this year and
receive disability benefits from one of the following:

  • Social Security Administration, or
  • Veterans Administration, or
  • Civil Service, or
  • Railroad Retirement,
or have one of the following:
  • a Class 2 disability card from the Illinois Secretary of State's office, or
  • a completed Attachment A: Physician's Statement if you are not yet age 65 and do not have other proof of disability as listed above.

NOTE: Use a separate Attachment A for each person who is not yet age 65 and needs to send us other proof of disability.

Who is a Qualified Additional Resident? [ top ]

A Qualified Additional Resident is an individual, other than your spouse,

  • who lived with you in the same residence last year and this year up to the time you file your Benefit Access Application; and
  • for whom you, or you and your spouse, provided more than half of that personís total financial support last year; and
  • who is not or should not be filing a separate Benefit Access Application.

What if I am NOT a U.S. citizen? [ top ]

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for a License Plate discount or Ride Free Transit Card.

What if I am married? [ top ]

If you are married and you and your spouse lived together on December 31 of last year, you must complete one Benefit Access Application and report your total combined income. Your spouse cannot apply separately.

If one or both of you resided in a nursing home, you should each complete a separate Benefit Access Application.

If you and your spouse were permanently separated on December 31 of last year and are living at different addresses, you may each complete separate Benefit Access Applications. If you file as a surviving spouse, then only your income will be counted in determining household income.

What if I share my home with someone other than my spouse or any Qualified Additional Resident? [ top ]

A person who lives with you (other than your spouse or Qualified Additional Resident) may apply on a separate Benefit Access Application, if he or she meets the requirements listed above.

Benefit Access Links

Benefit Access Application
Benefit Access Application Training Webinar
Apply Online
Application Inquiry
License Plate Discount
Ride Free Transit Benefit
Who Should Apply?
Contact Information

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