Author: David Wolowitz & Michael O'Connor, Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: September 2012
What Is It? The Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled Grant Program is an Illinois program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. It may provide a cash grant to low income people with disabilities (and people age 65 and over).
What Is Its Purpose? To provide for the basic income needs of people with disabilities and senior citizens.
Who Can Benefit? Low income Illinois residents with disabilities and senior citizens.
The Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled grant program provides a cash grant to low income people with disabilities. It is intended to assist them in meeting their basic needs. This program is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
Note: This program also benefits low-income senior citizens.
You may hear this program referred to as AABD-MAG or AABD-MANG. It is also sometimes called the State Supplemental Payment program because it often supplements an SSI or SSDI grant. Anyone who is eligible for an AABD grant, no matter how small the grant (even $1), is automatically eligible for Medicaid assistance, as well.
Who is Eligible for AABD Cash Assistance?
In order to be eligible for AABD, you must be:
Income. IDHS counts the amount of your income from other sources in determining the amount of your AABD grant and your eligibility. If your countable income is greater than the benefit allowances set by IDHS, you are not eligible. IDHS does not count certain types of income, such as food stamp benefits, Energy Assistance Grants, and Earned Income Tax Credits, and the first $25 of income from any other source.
If you work, IDHS does not count the first $50 per month of income. If you are blind, an even greater amount of your earnings is not counted. In addition, you are entitled to deductions from your counted income for work-related travel and other work expenses.
Assets. You are not eligible if you own assets of $2,000 or more. The asset limit amount is increased to $3,000 if you are living with a spouse or other dependent person, and is further increased by $50 for each additional dependent.
IDHS does not count some assets at all. These are called "exempt assets" and include the following:
The Amount of Assistance You Will Receive
The manner in which the amount of your AABD grant is calculated is rather complicated. The regulations establish the minimum amounts, called allowances, which are needed to meet the costs of housing, utilities, clothing, laundry, household supplies, personal essentials, food, and transportation. The amount of the allowance for these items depends on your living arrangements.
If your assets are below the allowable level, and your income is not enough to meet these minimum living expenses, then you will receive a AABD grant to make up the difference.
You must make a written application at your local Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) office. They will ask you to provide verification of your income and assets and of your expenses. IDHS is required to process your application within 45 days.
There are many people eligible for AABD cash assistance who are not getting it because they do not know about the program and because the application process was very difficult. IDHS has recently computerized the application process, and anyone who is potentially eligible should be encouraged to apply. In general, anyone who is receiving SSDI or SSI benefits of less than $700 per month should be encouraged to apply.
Right to Notice and to Appeal
If IDHS finds you ineligible for assistance, or reduces or terminates your grant, IDHS must give you a written notice explaining the reasons. If you disagree, you are entitled to appeal. You must file the appeal in writing at IDHS within 60 days of the date of the written notice.
The Right to a Hearing
After you file the appeal, IDHS will hold a pre-appeal conference. You will meet with the caseworker and his or her supervisor. If the denial was due to a mistake or a misunderstanding about the facts, IDHS may agree to approve the case or restore your full grant at this stage. If not, IDHS will schedule a "fair hearing."
An impartial hearing officer will preside over the hearing. At the hearing, you may be represented by any person of your choice, including an attorney. You may also represent yourself. You will have the following rights at the hearing:
Following the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a written decision, containing his finding of facts and conclusions.
Lawsuit for Judicial Review
If the hearing officer rules against you, you may file a lawsuit in the Illinois Circuit Court. You must file this lawsuit no later than 35 days from the date that the decision was sent to you.
You or your lawyer will have the opportunity to make written and oral arguments in support of your case. The judge will then decide whether IDHS and the hearing officer fairly considered the facts and properly applied the law. The judge can approve your claim, deny your claim, or remand your case to the IDHS to be reevaluated in accordance with the judge's instructions.
Statutes and Regulations
The Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled statute can be found at 305 ILCS 5/3.
The regulations of the Illinois Department of Human Services governing the AABD program can be found at 89 Ill.Admin.Code 113.
The regulations concerning the appeal process can be found at 89 Ill.Admin.Code 104.
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