Americans can receive energy assistance by completing and submitting a LIHEAP application.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program requirements vary from state to state.
Moreover, applicants may have access to different methods to apply for benefits depending on where they live.
Applicants should ensure that they meet the program’s guidelines before they apply.
Since the program is designed to assist low-income individuals, this is the first guideline applicants should meet.
Applicants that apply for LIHEAP will receive financial support to cover heating and cooling services at their home.
To begin the process, candidates should research what types of applications are available in their states.
Some states offer single applications online to help applicants determine their eligibility and start receiving benefits.
Other states require that applicants submit a pre-screening process or schedule an appointment to apply.
Applicants can learn more about LIHEAP requirements and the application process by reading the sections below.
Learn About LIHEAP Requirements
States are required to set yearly income guidelines that applicants must meet to be eligible for LIHEAP benefits.
They must set these levels in terms of income and household size.
States set these levels as a percentage of the federal poverty line that an applicant’s annual income must not exceed if he or she seeks to qualify for benefits.
Candidates whose income exceed the required amount, will not be eligible to receive any amount of energy assistance.
For this reason, applicants should understand how their state of residence defines income.
Some states consider the gross income, that is, income earned before taxes and deductions, to verify if an applicant meets the requirements.
In other cases, some states such as Michigan, also consider an applicant’s assets to determine their eligibility.
More requirements that exist include providing documents such as school enrollment forms and energy bills.
Besides the income level of an applicant, LIHEAP considers this amount against the applicant’s household size.
Candidates must include every member that lives in the same home as they do. The program tends to consider every individual of 18 years of age or older as a member of a household.
States like Nebraska have further requirements that have to do with the composition of an applicant’s household.
For instance, a senior or child must live in an applicant’s house for it to qualify for benefits.
Other states also have immigration requirements for an applicant to qualify for benefits.
For this reason, LIHEAP candidates must check the program’s guidelines regarding family composition to verify if they qualify for benefits.
An applicant may have to meet additional LIHEAP requirements that exist in their state.
On the other hand, candidates who already participate in other government assistance programs may automatically qualify for LIHEAP benefits.
Before applying, applicants should consider the following additional aspects of the program:
- Automatic eligibility: State residents who participate in other government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Social Security Income (SSI) program may automatically qualify for benefits. Applicants will need to submit and sign a completed LIHEAP application to qualify.
- Residency requirements: Since the government distributes LIHEAP benefits at the state level, applicants must be residents of the state where they apply. Candidates should also check for any additional residency or immigration requirement that might exist.
- Coverage limitations: Some states limit the number of times a resident applies for benefits. Applicants may be limited to apply for benefits for a specific timeframe like six months or a year.
- Type of housing: Applicants who reside in subsidized or public housing may not meet LIHEAP eligibility.
How to Apply for LIHEAP
Applicants who verify that they meet the requirements should move forward by learning about the methods available to apply within their state.
Some states allow applicants to apply by mail, online or in person.
However, not all states have these three options available. Applicants may even be restricted to a single method to apply for benefits.
The sections below contain more detailed information about the different methods to apply.
How to Apply Online
States may offer the option for residents to apply through a state website. This feature is common for states that do not distribute benefits at the county level, but at the state level instead.
Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of hosting and processing the applications.
Applicants must first create an account with the state’s website designed by the department to manage the online applications.
Once an applicant creates an account, he or she should expect to provide personal and financial information.
Applicants may be asked to include information including their name, gender, marital status, Social Security Number (SSN) and the physical and mailing address.
Moreover, applicants may be asked to provide:
- Information on some or all the members of the household.
- Frequency of meals that household members eat together.
- Income sources and work history.
- Household expenses information such as rent and utility bills.
Note: Applicants may have to submit additional verification information through the mail or in person once they submit their online application.
How to Apply by Mail
LIHEAP state programs that operate at the county or district level, typically offer mail-in applications.
This type of application is also limited to those states that require a single statewide application form.
Applicants can access this form online and print it or may have to call a phone number and have the agency deliver this form to their house.
Once they have the form, applicants should complete and sign the form and mail it along with the required verification documents.
The department will send a notice within a few weeks depending on their location.
How to Apply in Person
Some states only have the option to apply in person for LIHEAP benefits.
The in-person application method is common in states applicants to have access to benefits at the local level.
In some cases, applicants must visit an agency first to get approved to submit their application.
Other states require applicants to apply in person and to bring their family members along to complete the application.
Applicants can locate a LIHEAP office online. They may also schedule an appointment through the state’s website or by calling a program representative directly.
Candidates should prepare and bring any verification documents to complete their application, which may take more than one visit to complete.
Moreover, applicants should prepare all the necessary documentation they need to apply and present it to the department during their first visit.
Once an applicant’s information is approved, their energy provider might receive a lump sum payment to settle and applicant’s debts or cover part of their utility service.