Do I qualify for the Benefit Access Program?
Note: Use of the word spouse also includes a civil union partner.
Apply on the Benefit Access Application if you meet the following requirements:
- you must be 65 years of age or older by December 31 of the current year; or
- you must be 16 years of age or older and totally disabled before January 1 of this year.
NOTE: "Person with a disability" means a person unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. [320 ILCS 25/3.14]
Income Limit Eligibility for the License Plate discount and/or Ride Free Transit Card: (Income limit increase effective 1/1/2020.)
- you must live in Illinois at the time you file your application.
Your total income last year must be less than
- $33,562 for a 1 person household (yourself only); or
- $44,533 for a 2 person household (yourself and your spouse, or yourself and one Qualified Additional Resident); or
- $55,500 for a 3 person household (yourself, your spouse and one Qualified Additional Resident, or yourself and two Qualified Additional Residents).
NOTE: 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.
*Click here for a list of what is considered income.
*Get Your Social Security Benefit Verification Online with mySocialSecurity.
Eligibility is good for two years under the Benefit Access Program. The two-year period starts at the time your application is approved. You may file again beginning 90 days before your eligibility expires.
Who qualifies as disabled?
To qualify as disabled, you must be at least 16 years of age prior to January 1 of the current year and be determined totally and permanently disabled from one of the following:
- Social Security Administration (Get Your Social Security Benefit Verification Online with mySocialSecurity), or
- Veterans Administration, or
- Civil Service, or
- Railroad Retirement,
or have one of the following:
Who is a Qualified Additional Resident?
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 person’s total financial support last year; and
- who is not or should not be filing a separate Benefit Access Application. Qualified Additional Residents are not eligible for benefits.
What if I am NOT a U.S. citizen?
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for a license plate discount or ride free transit card. However, you must have a Social Security number to fill out a Benefit Access Application. In the case of a married couple both individuals must have their own Social Security number. Qualified Additional Residents must also have their own Social Security number.
What if I am married?
- 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 a separate Benefit Access Application, but may be required to prove that you are not living together by sending us legal separation papers from the court, divorce papers or a US1040 for each, indicating separate addresses.
- If you are a surviving spouse as of December 31 of last year, then you should file as single using only your income from last year.
What if I share my home with someone other than my spouse or a Qualified Additional Resident?
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.
How can I check the status of my application?
When you return to the Benefit Access Application Website, you will be prompted to enter your Social Security number, your date of birth and your name. The system will present your application status at that time.
How do I print my Ride Free Transit Certificate?
When you return to the Benefit Access Application Website, you will be prompted to enter your Social Security number, your date of birth and your name. The system will present your application status at that time. If approved, click on "certificate" under Print and your Benefit Access Program Eligibility Notice will appear.