Public Benefits and Supportive Community Programs

The following information is based on public benefits that families and individuals may apply to for help during times of financial crisis as well as services provided within the Federation system. To get help in finding out which of the public programs might fit your needs you may complete the Benefits Check-Up on-line, or call any Benefits Eligibility Center (BEC) for an appointment. You will be asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire that identifies the appropriate programs for your situation. CJE SeniorLife is a BEC site for Chicago and the Suburbs. Call (773) 508-1000 for more information or to make an appointment.

1. My income has been significantly reduced, are there public benefits or other community resources for which I am eligible for?

Health Care:

Food Assistance:

  • IDHFS has several programs that can provide support for you during these difficult times based on your age, needs, income and assets. To qualify, assets must be under $2,000 per individual. Cars and Homes are not counted as assets.
    • Individuals can obtain temporary cash assistance through General Assistance and Food Stamps through the SNAP program.
    • Food Assistance is available in the Jewish community through the JUF Uptown Café and EZRA food pantry, The ARK food pantry, and Maot Chitim for assistance during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. For a more comprehensive list of ways to access food in the Jewish and general community, search for “Food” “Food Pantries” or “Food Vouchers” in the J-HELP resource directory.

Financial Counseling and Monetary Assistance:

Financial Counseling, Education, Resources:

  • J-HELP Access is a collaborative effort by JCFS, JVS, and CJE SeniorLife that helps clients navigate the wide array of support services they may need to combat and survive these difficult economic times. Working as one seamless system these three social services agencies: provide career counseling services, emergency financial aid, individualized financial budgeting and counseling, linkage to public benefits and other community resources.
  • Credit Builder Program at JVS’s Duman Microenterprise Center (http:jvschicago.org/calendar) The Duman Center along with its banking partner provides credit counseling anf financial educational classes so clients will learn how to build a solid credit history, learn about money management skills and build savings. All financial educational classes are at no charge. This program also provides qualified clients with small installment Credit Builder Loans to help them build a credit history or to repair and restore a negative credit history.

    For information or to schedule an appointment:
    Call (312) 673-3440
    E-mail: NataliePankow@jvschicago.org 
  • Benefits Enrollment. CJE SeniorLife helps older adults identify and apply for government benefits, advocates on behalf of clients who have problems with government benefits or for those in need of additional resources outside the scope of government benefits.

    For information or to schedule an appointment
    Call (773) 508-1000
    Email: Lauren.crawford@CJE.net.
  • Financial Counseling. Jewish Child and Family Services is providing financial counseling to help people stabilize and manage their household finances. Limited emergency financial assistance for rent, mortgages, utilities, and other critical expenses can be provided for those who qualify. A complete economic and psychosocial assessment begins the process.

    For information or to schedule an appointment:
    Call the JCFS intake clinician at 773- 866-5035 (Chicago), 847-568-5200 (Skokie), 847-392-8820 (Arlington Heights), or 847-272-2882 (Northbrook) for more information.

Monetary Assistance:

  • The Temporary Assistance for Needy Family program (TANF) can provide monetary support while you are seeking employment, and sometimes funds for childcare. In addition you may be eligible for food assistance through the SNAP program.

2. Where can I turn if I need help paying my utility bills? (Link to Utility Assistance section of Housing page)

To apply inquire about or apply for any of these benefits, go to your local IDHFS Family Community Center which you can locate in the J-HELP Searchable Database, or apply on line at www.hfs.illinois.gov or call DHS at (800) 447-4278.

Specific Population Resources and Benefits:

3. As a senior citizen with reduced income, where can I find out about additional benefits?

  • Aid to the Aged Blind and Disabled can provide cash assistance and the SNAP program can provide Food Stamps depending on your current income and asset level.
  • Assistance for Nursing Home Residents and Families- IDHFS will pay for room and board if an individual does not have enough Medicare or assets to pay the total nursing home costs. Additionally, the IDHFS Spousal Impoverishment program can assist couples where one is a nursing home resident and one remains in the community. If you are applying for Medicaid to assist in the payment of your spouse’s stay in a nursing home call contact IDHFS in order to find out how much income and assets you may keep to remain independent in the community.

The National Department of Health and Human Services has several programs to help enhance your income and reduce costs:

  • If you are eligible for The Medicare Savings plan, Medicaid will pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • If you are paying for a prescription drug plan you may be eligible for Illinois Cares Rx to help lower medication costs and pay the premium on your drug plan if you enroll in a coordinating plan.
  • Or you may be eligible for a Low Income Subsidy that pays the premium on your existing drug plan and lowers your prescription drug co-pay.
  • To find out more about these and other services for seniors go to www.cje.net or call 773/508-1000.

4. I am an individual with a disability/the caregiver of an individual with a disability, what benefits or services might I be eligible for?

  • Aid to the Aged Blind and Disabled can provide cash assistance and the SNAP program can provide Food Stamps depending on your current income and asset level.
  • IDHFS offers affordable healthcare for workers with disabilities through Medicaid in Illinois. Monthly premiums are based on income and family size.
  • From counseling and respite to future planning, to advocacy and help accessing public benefits, Federation agencies offer a wide range of services to individuals with disabilities and their caregivers. For more information about the types of services and supports available contact CJE SeniorLife, Jewish Child and Family Services, Jewish Vocational Service directly, or visit the J-HELP Searchable Database for information about services near you.

5. I am an immigrant, what other benefits or services might I be eligible for?

  • Many government benefits are only available to U.S. citizens or to those who were admitted to the country with refugee or asylee status. If you are not a U.S. citizen, it is important to obtain assistance in determining what government benefits you are eligible to receive. You may contact HIAS Chicago (312-357-4666, www.jcfs.org/p_program.cfm?cat=sc&id=8) or Jewish Child and Family Services (773-866-5035, www.jcfs.org) for assistance in determining your eligibility for government benefits.
  • Some non-government community organizations provide free assistance to immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, e.g. clinics that provide free medical care, food pantry programs and a variety of safety net services. You can explore the J-HELP Searchable Database for further information.
  • HIAS Chicago provides a wide range of pre- and post- migration services including refugee assistance, family based immigration services, green card and citizenship assistance. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (312) 357-4666.