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LIHEAP: What’s Important to Know

Every household has a variety of expenses that they need to deal with. Some of the most costly living expenses that people deal with are rent and grocery shopping. However, smaller expenses like gas and electricity bills can add up quickly and cost hundreds of dollars per month. For someone that is financially struggling, these bills can become too much to handle. Many families are aware that there is support available for rent and food expenses. What about support for utilities? Having gas and electricity in your home can be just as important for survival as food and shelter. Fortunately, there are government programs that offer support in this area as well! One program is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

What You Need to Know About the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and How You Can Benefit

LIHEAP is a federally funded assistance program that is offered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This program provides helpful cost assistance to families that are low-income. The cost assistance goes towards both utility bills and some other necessary energy costs for the home. LIHEAP can assist with the following:

  • Energy-related home repairs
  • Emergency services for when electricity or heating gets shut off
  • Cost assistance for utility bills, such as heating and cooling

Furthermore, the assistance that you can expect to get from LIHEAP is not limited to everything listed above. Also, recipients of this program don’t deal directly with the HHS. Instead, LIHEAP has its state agencies and local offices run and administer the program.

Does LIHEAP Cover All of Your Utility Expenses?

LIHEAP provides cost assistance for certain utility expenses, such as your gas or electricity bill. Recipients aren’t relieved of the total cost of their utilities, however. Households that can receive this support generally get help with one of their utility bills. This means they are still responsible for the other expenses that LIHEAP does not cover.

LIHEAP Can Lower Your Overall Energy Costs

Not only does LIHEAP provide cost assistance on utility expenses for low-income households, they also help by making energy-related repairs. These repairs are done in order to improve the energy usage of the home. For example, lowering the cost it takes to heat the home. This part of the program is known as weatherization. Weatherization repairs may include any of the following:

  • Improving or installing insulation
  • Providing solutions for or fixing doors and windows that leak
  • Upgrading or repairing inefficient heating/cooling systems

How to Qualify for Benefits with LIHEAP

There are a few factors that LIHEAP considers when reviewing which households can benefit from the program. We mentioned previously that this cost assistance is available to low-income families. Naturally, the program considers income level as one of the main qualifications. The list below is the maximum amount of income a household can make in order to be eligible for LIHEAP. These numbers are based on the size of the household and are subject to change. The income limits are as follows:

  • 1-person household can make a maximum income of $20,385 per year
  • 2-person household can make a maximum income of $27,465 per year
  • 3-person household can make a maximum income of $34,545 per year
  • 4-person household can make a maximum income of $41,625 per year
  • 5-person household can make a maximum income of $48,705 per year
  • 6-person household can make a maximum income of $55,785 per year
  • 7-person household can make a maximum income of $62,865 per year
  • 8-person household can make a maximum income of $69,645 per year
  • For households with more than eight people, add an additional $7,080 per person

While income is a large factor in determining eligibility, it isn’t the only way a household can qualify. Households that are already receiving assistance from another federal program may be able to automatically get additional help with LIHEAP. Recipients of the following popular programs may be eligible:

To ensure that you have the most accurate and current information about LIHEAP, you want to get in touch with your local office. Furthermore, the only guaranteed way to find out if you qualify is to complete an application and get approved.

How to Apply to LIHEAP for Support

If you would like to apply for support with LIHEAP, the first step you can take is to contact your local or state office. It’s hard to say what the exact application process is like because it varies depending on which state you live in.

Documentation Needed for the LIHEAP Application

While the exact application process differs between the states that offer LIHEAP, you can expect to provide the following documents with your application:

  • Paystubs, bank statements, or other financial documents
  • Proof of benefits from another government program
  • Citizenship status verification
  • Address verification such as bills addressed to you, a lease agreement, etc
  • Proof of identification
  • Social Security number/card

Bottom Line

Many basic needs are essential for survival. Food and shelter are two of the most important. However, it’s equally important that the home you have is warm, safe, and comfortable. For folks that are struggling financially, utility bills can often get left behind when other, more costly needs, are paid first. Yet, these expenses are just as crucial! Fortunately, there are ways a household can get help with their utilities. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help by covering the cost of certain utilities for low-income families. Not only that, but they also help lower a family’s energy costs in the future. They do this by making necessary upgrades and repairs to equipment within the home. Other forms of support you can expect with LIHEAP include:

  • Emergency services for when electricity or heating gets shut off
  • Cost assistance with heating and cooling expenses

To get support with LIHEAP, you need to meet certain income requirements. However, households that are already benefiting from other federal programs may automatically qualify for these benefits. This includes recipients of SNAP, TANF, and SSI. The only way to know if you are eligible for LIHEAP is to apply! You can get started by reaching out to your local or state office.