Who is Eligible for LIHEAP
The federal statute states that individuals or families making less than 150% of the poverty line or 60% of the median state incomes are eligible to participate in LIHEAP. In 2013, 150% of the poverty line was $16,755 for an individual or $34,575 for a family of four.
However, states can set their own thresholds for eligibility if they are willing to offer help to people making slightly more than the federal threshold. Note that you will always qualify if your income meets the federal standards, but if your income is just a little higher than that 150% poverty mark, you may still qualify in your state. For instance, Vermont has set their qualifying income to be 185% of the poverty line.
Once an application has been approved, eligible residents can expect a wide range of benefits- anywhere from under a hundred dollars up to a thousand, depending on income, household size, and state of residence. Rarely will the benefit cover the entire cost of heating or cooling a home. Depending on the state, the program will provide assistance with paying current bills and/or will refund bills that have already been paid.
How to Apply for LIHEAP Assistance
The process to apply for LIHEAP is different in each state. Some states have a paper application, some an online form to fill out. In order to apply you'll need proof of income such as pay stubs, proof of address such as a copy of your lease, and current and past utility bills.
Be aware that the deadlines for applying vary in each state, though the application process tends to close in the spring as heating costs fall with warmer weather. North Dakota, for instance, has a deadline of May 31 to apply for assistance. This year some states, such as New Jersey, have expanded the deadline because residents are still struggling to pay their bills from the unusually harsh winter.
The first step in a successful LIHEAP application is to understand the requirements and the extremely important application start and end dates. Make sure and visit your state's LIHEAP website found within the Resource Guide on FindFamilyResources. Once you've made contact, make sure and ask any questions you have regarding the forms or application process. Applicants have been rejected for incorrectly filling out forms. It's always better to ask if you're unsure.
In summation, LIHEAP can provide extraordinary and timely assistance for you and your family. If you're eligible by meeting all of the requirements and have need, applying for LIHEAP benefits is something to seriously consider.