LIHEAP 101: What to Know

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Heating and cooling are essential parts of ensuring we are safe and comfortable in our homes. However, many people find themselves struggling to afford these expenses on top of other housing costs. Fortunately, there is a program that can help families in need with the bills related to energy costs. This assistance opportunity is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). While this program isn’t as well known as some other government programs, it provides necessary support to households that need it.

What is LIHEAP and How Does It Help?

LIHEAP is federally funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Additionally, state and local LIHEAP centers are responsible for operating the program. LIHEAP is an energy-related assistance opportunity for low-income households. There are multiple ways that LIHEAP supports its recipients. However, an expense that the program does not usually assist with is sewer and water bills. Exceptions can be made in some situations. Nevertheless, some forms of assistance you can expect with this program include:

  • Help with the cost of heating and cooling
  • Support with costs for energy-related home repairs and improvements
  • Energy crisis support
  • Bill payment aid

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for LIHEAP?

The goal of LIHEAP is to provide support to low-income households. For this reason, not everyone qualifies for assistance. Even so, there is more than one way someone can qualify for this opportunity. First, one way that you can qualify for benefits with LIHEAP is based on your income level. In order to be eligible, your income cannot be more than the yearly income limit. The program sets income limits based on household size. For example, the yearly income limit for a one person household is $20,385. On the other hand, the yearly income limit for a seven person household is $62,865.

In addition to income level, recipients of other government programs may be able to receive benefits with LIHEAP. This qualification applies to someone who is already receiving benefits from the following programs:

For more information about eligibility, contact your local LIHEAP office. They are the best resource for the most correct and up to date information.

Applying for LIHEAP

We previously stated that the program is operated by state and local LIHEAP offices. The federal government doesn’t provide benefits directly to recipients. Instead, states receive the funds to run the program. For this reason, your application won’t be handled by the government.

In order to submit an application, you need to get in touch with someone from LIHEAP locally. They can help you by giving you more information about how to get started. However, if your local office isn’t getting back to you, the next step would be to contact your state LIHEAP office. You can expect that the application process will vary depending on where you live.

Answering Some Final Questions About LIHEAP

Government support programs can be confusing. It can feel like there is a gray area about how and who the program helps. The answers to a couple of common questions may be able to bring some clarity. You can find these two questions below.

Does LIHEAP Cover The Entire Utility Bill?

More often than not, this assistance program covers the costs of a utility bill for a recipient. This is usually the bill for the home’s main source of heating. Unfortunately, this means that LIHEAP typically doesn’t cover all of your utility expenses!

Is LIHEAP Effective For Reducing Energy Costs Going Forward?

One way that this program helps households is through weatherization. What this means is that LIHEAP assists with repairs that can improve the energy efficiency of the home. Therefore, these repairs help households save money on their energy bills in the future! A few common repairs are:

    • Installing insulation
    • Fixing and/or replacing broken or ineffective heating and cooling units
    • Fixing cracked or leaky doors and windows

Other Assistance Opportunities 

As we mentioned before, recipients of other government programs can qualify for LIHEAP. There are a variety of other government assistance opportunities that you might be able to benefit from. Those programs include:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The main goal of TANF is to help low-income families become self-sufficient and, therefore, not need government assistance anymore. In order to accomplish this, they support families in different ways. Such as assistance with child care, financial assistance, helping families find and keep work, and more. This program is operated by state governments using funds from TANF. For this reason, the program will look a bit different depending on where you live.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Groceries are a costly but necessary expense for every household. SNAP provides its recipients with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. This is how recipients spend their monthly benefits. SNAP is a food assistance program that helps families lower the cost of what they spend on groceries. Hence, EBT cards can be used at approved stores to purchase qualifying food items!

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program provides financial support to eligible individuals. The financial support comes in the form of cash assistance. The recipients can then use their funds to cover any necessary expenses like clothing, shelter, and food. Recipients of SSI have either a low income or don’t have any income. Groups that can benefit from SSI include elderly, disabled, or blind individuals.

Conclusion

There are a variety of government assistance programs that help people in need get back on their feet. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a support opportunity that helps households with essentials like heating and air conditioning. The program assists in various ways.

Not everyone qualifies to receive assistance with this program. The exact eligibility requirements vary depending on where you live. The best way to find out if you qualify is by contacting your local LIHEAP office. However, there is one way in particular that households can automatically qualify for this program. People who are already receiving support from another certain government program may also receive assistance from LIHEAP.

Besides LIHEAP, one of these programs could also help improve your current situation. If you would like to find out more information about any of them, contact the appropriate local government office!