Learn About the Illinois WIC Program
Illinois WIC is a food assistance program for women, infants and children who qualify for benefits. The program provides numerous benefits, including nutritious food items, nutrition education and information, breastfeeding support and referrals to other state and public service programs. You must visit a WIC office in IL to apply for assistance. However, it is worth reviewing eligibility requirements prior to scheduling an appointment for your application.
The WIC program requires applicants to meet categorical, income, residency and nutritional-risk related eligibility requirements before benefits can be issued. The program can only provide assistance to certain categories of individuals who are of low income, retain Illinois residency and has a dietary or medical condition causing a nutritional risk. After you have learned more about each of these eligibility requirements, it is strongly encouraged that you familiarize yourself with program benefits and that you prepare for your appointment with your local office.
What are the WIC requirements in Illinois?
To qualify for WIC in Illinois, you must meet categorical requirements, as the program will only provide assistance to:
- Infants and children up to 5 years old.
- Pregnant women.
- Postpartum women that are not breastfeeding, up to 6 months after the end of a pregnancy.
- Postpartum women that are breastfeeding, up to the baby’s first birthday.
While fathers, grandparents and other potential caretakers cannot apply for benefits for themselves, these individuals may still submit an application on behalf of a qualifying child.
WIC qualifications are strongly related to income, as the program seeks to provide assistance to individuals and families that need it most. Illinois income limits are determined by the federal poverty line and are therefore recalculated once each year. However, the program only provides assistance to families that are considered low income. Income limits are set by household size, with each unborn baby counting as an additional household member. For example, if you and your husband are expecting twins and there are no other children within the household, your household size would be considered to be four.
WIC requirements also include residency and nutritional risk. While there is a WIC program in every state, to apply for the one in Illinois, you must be a resident of the state. If you are not, you will be required to apply for assistance through your own state’s program. You may not receive assistance in more than one state at any given time.
When it comes to WIC nutritional risk requirements, it is worth knowing that there are a variety of medical and dietary conditions that will qualify as a nutritional risk. These conditions include, but are not limited to, anemia, a history of poor pregnancy outcomes, low birth weight, poor diet, underweight and overweight.
To learn more about WIC requirements, download our free guide.
How to Apply for WIC in Illinois
An Illinois WIC application can only be submitted in person by appointment at a local office. Therefore, it is important to learn more about this initial appointment, including the documentation that you will need to provide, in order to better prepare and familiarize yourself with the application process.
When learning how to get WIC in Illinois, it is important to know that online and mail applications are not currently accepted. However, if you have a condition that may limit your ability to visit your local office, it is strongly recommended that you contact your local office in order to determine how the office may be able to accommodate you.
Our comprehensive guide has more information on how to sign up for WIC.
What can you get with WIC in Illinois?
After being approved for WIC in Illinois, you will begin to receive a variety of benefits, including:
- Nutrition education and information that is tailored to you.
- Free health screenings and immunizations.
- Referrals to other community service programs, including other health care services.
- Breastfeeding information and support.
- Checks that can be used towards the purchase of authorized nutritious food items.
Your WIC benefits will be provided to you through various checks that are distributed on a monthly basis. You will receive more than one check, as each check is for a different category of food. Each check will also display the maximum dollar amount that the check can be used for, as well as the date that you can begin using the checks and the date that the check will expire. The types of checks that you are provided will be determined by category, age and special needs. Generally, you will be able to purchase food items such as:
- Peanut butter.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Whole grain food items.
- Canned fish.
- Dried and canned beans.
- Baby food and formula.
Review what food you may get with WIC assistance carefully as, for a food to be authorized, you must purchase the correct brand, size and you must avoid any additive ingredient that is considered restricted by the program.
How to Prepare for a WIC Appointment in Illinois
Your Illinois WIC appointment is an important step in receiving benefits from the program, as your eligibility will be determined there. If you are found eligible at the end of your WIC appointment, you may start receiving checks for nutritious food the same day that you apply for benefits. If you are missing documentation, or if you do not bring your children to your appointment, you will be asked to reschedule your appointment or your application may be denied. When visiting your local WIC office, it is important to bring:
- Any child that you are applying for benefits for.
- Proof of identity for both you and your potentially qualifying children.
- Proof of address.
- Proof of income for all household members.
- Proof of pregnancy, if you are currently pregnant.
- Immunization records for each of your children.
To find out more about WIC appointments, download our comprehensive guide.
How to Check Your WIC Balance in Illinois
You will receive Illinois WIC checks that dictate the type of food that you may purchase with each check. While you do not need to use all of your checks in a single purchase, it is worth knowing that checks will expire on the last day of each month. Benefits do not roll over to the following month for any reason. You can check your WIC balance by reviewing the number of checks that you have remaining in various food categories. This provides you with a simple way to balance the use of your benefits throughout any given month.