Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD)

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Author: Attorney Desk Reference Manual
Last updated: April 2007

Non-Financial Eligibility Requirements
Financial Eligibility Requirements

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Illinois funds and administers an Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD) program that provides state supplemental payments to persons who meet the aged, blind and disabled requirements of the SSI program, but who need income in excess of the SSI level.


305 ILCS 5/5-1 et. seq.

89 Ill. Admin. Code Ch. 1 § 113

DHS Policy Manual

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AABD Benefits

More money.  For the very poor people potentially eligible for AABD, every dollar counts.  Moreover, some AABD payments can be as high as around $100.00 per month or even more, depending on the client’s circumstances.  There are persons who are disabled but who did not pay very much into the Soical Security system, who will be eligible for Social Security Benefits, SSI, and AABD every month.  For instance, if the person’s Social Securiyt benefit is $350, she/he will also be entitled to $222 in SSI (SSI guarantees $552 and there is a $20 income deduction that applies to reduce the countable OASDI to $330).  If his/her AABD budget (see below) adds up to more than the combined Social Security and SSI, she/he also will receive the state supplement.

Medicaid eligibilityWhenever anybody receives cash AABD (even $1.00), they are also eligible for Medicaid without a spend-down.  When a person is not eligible for cash AABD, she/he may have to buy a substantial amount of his/her own medical care every month before Medicaid kicks in.  This is called the "spend down" requirement.  It is explained under the medical sections of this manual.  When a person receives cash AABD, there is no spend-down.

Because of the way that AABD budgeting works out, anybody who is aged, blind or disabled whose income from all sources is under $650 should apply for AABD.  There is no downside to applying, and the benefits could be substantial.  Applications are made at the local DHS office.  As the subsequent information will demonstrate, perhaps the most important role of the advocate is to help clients establish the maximum amount of allowable "needs" so that their total need (as determined by the AABD budget) is greater than their income.

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Non-Financial Requirements of Eligibility

To receive AABD cash benefits, a person who is age 65 or older must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Receive SSI or
  • Be ineligible for SSI due to income or
  • Be a noncitizen who was legally residing in the U.S. on 08/22/96, and who was denied SSI due to a finding of "not disabled"

To receive AABD cash benefits, a person who is under age 65 must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Receive SSI or
  • Be ineligible for SSI due to income and was found disabled

Citizenship Requirements

Citizens are eligible.  Undocumented aliens are not eligible.  Noncitizens legally in the United States are also ineligible unless they fit one of the following exceptions:

  1. Honorably discharged veterans or active duty service members and their spouses and dependent children
  2. Refugees
  3. Asylees
  4. Persons for whom deportation is withheld under Section 243(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  5. Persons granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the INA
  6. Legal permanent residents of the United States and Parolees under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA, but if they arrived in the United States on or after August 22, 1996, they are only eligible after they have been in the United states for five years.  The most important of these restrictions is the last one, which bars legal immigrants who arrived on or after August 22, 1996, from eligibility for the first five years they are in the United States.

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Financial Eligibility Requirements

This is the only welfare program that does not have a "flat" or standard payment system.  Instead, the payment is variable, depending on calculations of each person’s needs and countable income.  Needs minus income equals grant amount.


DHS has established allowances for various needs.  The recipient gets his actual expenditures for a given item of need up to a maximum.  For instance, rent is an allowable need, and the maximum is $97 ($102 if the apartment is furnished).  A client who pays rent will receive a needs allowance of his actual rent or the $97 maximum, whichever is less.  There are allowances for the various utilities, personal needs, special diets, restaurant or home delivered meals, and others.  Thus, because of the way the AABD grant is calculated, advocates should situate the client so that his needs budget will be as high as possible, prior to having the client apply for AABD.

DHS pro-rates the rent and utility allowances per capita when recipients share a home (even with an infant). For example, if two people live together, they each have a maximum rent allowance of $48.50 ($97 ÷ 2 = $48.50).  Thus, when sending someone in to apply for AABD, it is important to try to present the client as maintaining a separate household.  The person qualifies for separate household status if he lives in the same house or apartment with his landlord, pays a flat fee for shelter, and shares no shelter or other household expenses with the other members of the household.  "Landlord" in this context can include someone who himself is a tenant; the AABD applicant can be a subtenant, and the tenant would be his "landlord".  A person under 21 cannot have separate household status if the "landlord" is his parent.

Almost every homeless person is entitled to the restaurant allowance.  It is given to persons who cannot cook, either because they do not have cooking facilities, or because they have physical or mental impairments that prevent cooking.  This is a substantial allowance.  It should be available to most applicants who are in rooming houses or hotels, because the rooms do not have cooking facilities.  Obviously, it is available to any homeless person who has no place to stay.

There are also allowances for medically prescribed special diets, the largest one being for the high calorie diabetic diet.

Thus, to determine an AABD needs budget, there are rent and personal needs allowances that depend on the number of people living together, and then the special needs.  Some of the special needs allowances are set forth below:

Telephone: If the client requires a phone due to illness or incapacity and does not have one, the department will pay for installation and monthly charges at the "lowest community rate."

Laundry: If nobody in the household is able to do laundry, and the client is incontinent or confined to bed, and there are no laundry facilities in the home, there is an allowance of $3.18 per month.  Homeless people are routinely given this allowance if they ask for it.  They should not try to meet the "incontinent or confined to bed" language.  Just ignore it.

Shopping: If the client is unable to shop and nobody is available to do it for free, there is an allowance of $5.00 per month.

Therapeutic diet: Must be ordered by a doctor.  The monthly allowances are: Ulcer - $5.95; Diabetic (under 1700 calories) - $7.92; Diabetic (over 1700 calories) - $17.82; High protein, caloric, vitamin – $12.85.

Restaurant: If the client is unable to cook or has no cooking facilities (e.g., the Homeless), there is an allowance for purchasing restaurant meals.  This does not preclude eligibility for Food Stamps.  The maximum monthly allowance is $102.63.

Home delivered meals: If clients are confined to their homes because of illness or incapacity, there is an allowance for home delivered meals.  This does not preclude eligibility for Food Stamps.  The monthly allowances, for 5 and 7 days a week respectively, are: lunch only - $13.70 and $19.21; dinner only - $22.84 and $31.99; lunch and dinner: $36.54 and $51.16; three meals a day - $45.68 and $63.95.


A client can make certain deductions from his/her earnings before the remainder counts against his AABD needs budget.  Also, there is a standard deduction from all income of $25.00. Some types of income are exempt (such as Food Stamps and Section 8 housing subsidies), but SSI and OASDI payments are not exempt.  Some of the income of a spouse or a parent (if the recipient is a minor) may be "deemed" available to the recipient and counted.  On the other hand, there is an income deduction if the recipient is providing support for a spouse or his minor children.


If a person possesses non-exempt assets, he is ineligible. Assets are treated the same as under SSI. Homestead property is exempt, and there are other exemptions as well.  The first $2000 of otherwise non-exempt property (usually cash in a bank account) is also exempt.

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