Senior Citizens Handbook - Financial Assistance: Emergency Help

Senior Citizens Handbook - Financial Assistance: Emergency Help

Last updated: September 2012

(Chapter 1 Section 1 of the Senior Citizens Handbook)

What It Is: State and local programs are available to assist people in emergency situations with food, shelter or medical care.

Where to Apply: The Illinois Department of Human Services or your local Township office.

Who May Be Eligible: People who have no or little money or assets, and are in need of emergency assistance.

Emergency Food Stamps

If you have little or no money, you may be able to get "expedited" (fast) service for food stamps, called Emergency Food Stamps. Apply to your local office of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). You can apply either by fax or in person.

Because there are special procedures for emergency food needs, you must tell the caseworker that you are "in immediate need of help," and that "it is an emergency."

You are entitled to an interview on the day of your application, or the next day. If you are found eligible, DHS must give you emergency food stamps within five days of your application date or the date the agency learns that you qualify for expedited services.

If your application for food stamps is denied and you believe that you are entitled to such benefits, call the nearest legal aid office (look in the Yellow Pages under Attorneys, Legal Assistance or Legal Services. Also see Appendix of this handbook).

If you do not have a Link card, you will have to wait to receive your Link card before you can use the food stamp benefits. You should ask your caseworker for a referral to a local food pantry to meet your immediate needs while you wait for your Link card.

See the section of this Handbook titled "Food Stamp Program" for more information about food stamps and how to appeal denials of assistance.

Emergency Needs for Rent, Utilities, Clothes, Medical Care and Other Basic Essentials

Townships administering the General Assistance Program can also provide a form of assistance called Emergency Assistance. "Emergency Assistance" is intended to deal with life-threatening circumstances or to help you attain self-sufficiency. It can help with emergency needs for shelter, food, utilities, medical attention, clothing or other basic essentials.

You should consider applying for this assistance if you do not yet receive any other form of financial assistance and you have emergency needs. Contact your local township office.

If you receive DHS medical assistance, but no cash assistance, you can still be eligible for emergency assistance.

The emergency assistance will be in the form of a voucher which you can present to a particular vendor.
Example: You present the voucher to your landlord or to a hotel, or to a store. They can get payment from the township for the amount of the voucher.

The voucher will be in an amount necessary to meet your need, up to the maximum established by the township.

The township cannot give emergency assistance to any one person more than once during any consecutive 12 month period.

If you are an applicant for public aid from DHS, the township can provide emergency assistance to you in order to cover time periods before you actually start receiving the aid.

If you do not qualify for other public benefit programs and need further assistance beyond the emergency help, you can apply to the township for General Assistance. See the section of this chapter titled "General Assistance." That section also describes the procedures for appealing township denials of assistance. Your receipt of emergency assistance should not affect your eligibility for General Assistance.

If you are think you were improperly denied emergency assistance, call the nearest legal aid office.

In addition to the governmental programs already mentioned, there may be agencies in your community that provide emergency help to seniors, especially those who are victims of abuse or financial exploitation. To find out which agency in your community may be available to assist, call the Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 (toll free).

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