Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2014

LIHEAP Program Explanation

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides financial assistance to low income renters or homeowners to help heat or cool their homes by making direct payments to their gas or electric utility companies.  The details and name of this program can vary from state to state.  It may also be referred to as HEAP, the Fuel Assistance Program, the Utility Assistance Program or other state specific names.  There are 2 types of benefits under this program: Regular Benefits and Emergency Benefits.

 Did You Know?
Qualifying for LIHEAP automatically makes a household eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program.  This program helps by providing insulation, replacing broken windows, and fixing or replacing heaters and furnaces.

Eligibility Requirements

Final eligibility for LIHEAP is determined by each state individually but there are general requirements which are common nationwide. 

While there is no age requirement, priority is usually given to a household that includes individuals who are at least 60 years old.  Marital status only impacts eligibility in so much as the more members of a household, the higher the financial limits for eligibility.  Both US citizens and qualified aliens can receive assistance.

There are no requirements tied to the health or physical status of the applicant.  

 Being eligible for LIHEAP does not guarantee that the applicant will receive assistance.  Limited funds are available each year.

Financial Requirements

The Federal government establishes an income limit range for LIHEAP which for most states is between 110% - 200% of the federal poverty level.   For 2014, these percentages translate to annual incomes of between $12,837 and $23,340.  However some states use an alternative limit which is 60% of state's median income (MSI).  Several states have in past years also considered the applicants available financial assets.

2014 LIHEAP State Income Eligibility Limits

State

Income

State

Income

Alabama

150% of FPL

$17,505

Missouri

135% of FPL

$15,755

Alaska

150% of FPL

$17,505

Montana

60% of MSI

$20,617

Arizona

60% of MSI

$21,565

Nebraska

116% of FPL

$13,537

Arkansas

60% of MSI

$18,672

Nevada

110% of FPL

$12,837

California

60% of MSI

$24,544

New Hampshire

125% of FPL

$14,588

Colorado

150% of FPL

$17,505

New Jersey

200% of FPL

$23,340

Connecticut

200% of FPL

$23,340

New Mexico

150% of FPL

$17,505

Delaware

200% of FPL

$23,340

New York

60% of MSI

Or 150% of FPL

$17,505

D.C.

60% of MSI

$21,702

North Carolina

130% of FPL

$15,171
Crisis: 150% of FPL

$17,505

Florida

150% of FPL

$17,505

North Dakota

60% of MSI

$23,143

Georgia

60% of MSI

$21,499

Ohio

200% of FPL

$23,340

Hawaii

150% of FPL

$17,505

Oklahoma

110% of FPL

$12,837

Idaho

150% of FPL

$17,505

Oregon

60% of MSI

$22,493

Illinois

150% of FPL

$17,505

Pennsylvania

160% of FPL

$17,424

Indiana

150% of FPL

$16,755

Rhode Island

60% of MSI

$27,353

Iowa

150% of FPL

$17,505

South Carolina

150% of FPL

$17,505

Kansas

130% of FPL

$15,171

South Dakota

160% of FPL

17,424

Kentucky

130% of FPL

$15,171

Tennessee

150% of FPL

$17,505

Louisiana

60% of MSI

$20,626

Texas

125% of FPL

$14,588

Maine

60% of MSI

$16,335

Utah

150% of FPL

$17,505

Maryland

175% of FPL

$20,423

Vermont

185% of FPL for heating

$21,590
200% of FPL for cooling

$21,780

Massachusetts

60% of MSI

$31,218

Virginia

130% of FPL

$15,171

Michigan

110% of FPL for heating

$12,837

60% of SMI for Crisis

$22,911

Washington

125% of FPL

$14,588

Minnesota

50% of MSI

$22,386

West Virginia

130% of FPL

$15,171

Mississippi

60% of MSI

$17,412

Wisconsin

60% of MSI

$24,319

   

Wyoming

60% of MSI

$23,711

 

Other Requirements

A household's utility company must participate in the LIHEAP program. One should call their utility company to confirm participation and eligibility guidelines. Applicants must submit the following information along with the application form:

  • Recent copies of utility bills
  • Proof of income from Social Security, Payroll, Unemployment Insurance, Pension Funds, disability, etc
  • Proof of present address (e.g., rent receipt, lease or deed, property tax bill)
  • Social Security numbers for all persons living in household and proof of residency such as birth certificates or school records.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residence

 

For Emergency/Crisis assistance, the following additional documents are required:

  • Termination notice from the utility company showing shut-off date
  • Proof of heating emergency
  • A copy of the last bill for deliverable fuels
  • The red tag for furnace repairs or a complete description of the problem

 

Benefits

Types of Benefits

There are 2 types of benefits under this program: Regular Benefits and Emergency Benefits, referred to as Cash Benefits and Crisis Benefits, respectively.

  • Regular benefits are applied for annually, have a longer approval process and are typically granted in larger amounts.
  • Emergency benefits are for those who are at immediate risk of having their utilities turned off, are dangerously low on fuel, or have been impacted by a natural disaster. These are approved or rejected within 48 hours.


There are also some possible additional benefits. In many states, if an elderly individual is receiving Supplemental Security Income, he or she is eligible for a Special Reduced Residential Service Rate Program, which can provide an additional 20% off their electric and/or gas bills.

Qualifying for the LIHEAP program automatically makes the household eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which is designed to help low income households by providing insulation, replacing broken windows, and fixing or replacing heaters and furnaces.

Receiving Benefits

LIHEAP assistance is paid as a lump sum sent directly to a utility company or fuel dealer on behalf of the beneficiary/household. This is typically sent once per year, but may be sent in smaller amounts (in greater frequency) to allow the state to better manage its funds.  

 LIHEAP benefits can only be used to pay for energy assistance.

 

Benefits Amounts & Limits

There are several factors that affect the size of grants including the number of people in the household, their income, the type of fuel used, and the size and type of home. The highest amount of assistance is given to those households with the lowest income and highest energy costs, taking into account the number of persons in the household.

The Regular Benefit amount can be between $100 and $1,200 a year. The Emergency Benefit amount is between $25 and $300 a year.  Those eligible for the Special Reduced Residential Service Rate Program would benefit from an additional 20% off their electric and/or gas bills.  For a typical household this could equal an additional $1,000 a year in savings. 

 

Application Process

What to Expect

 Most states offer the LIHEAP benefits on a first come, first serve basis; after the funding pool is empty, the financial assistance is no longer available until the following year.

LIHEAP's first come, first serve funding process results in a rush to apply each fall as that is when most states begin accepting applications. Usually households, which include a person over the age of 60, can apply a month in advance, which guarantees seniors priority. In hot weather States, like Arizona, LIHEAP is year round.

There is no cost to apply for the LIHEAP program.   However, a household must continue to pay its utility bill during the application/approval process and, if approved, they must continue to pay a portion of the bill.

A household's utility company must participate in the LIHEAP program. One should call their utility company to confirm participation and eligibility guidelines.

The approval process for the Regular Benefit is 30 days. Payments are made within 15 days of approval. Emergency Services applications are approved within 48 hours.

How to Apply

To begin the application process, contact your state LIHEAP office.  Assistance with the application is available by visiting one's respective county social service office.  Homebound applicants can request a home visit by local agency staff.  Applicants must submit the following information along with the application form:

  • Recent copies of utility bills
  • Proof of income from Social Security, Payroll, Unemployment Insurance, Pension Funds, disability, etc
  • Proof of present address (e.g., rent receipt, lease or deed, property tax bill)
  • Social Security numbers for all persons living in household and proof of residency such as birth certificates or school records.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residence

 

For Emergency/Crisis assistance, the following additional documents are required:

  • Termination notice from the utility company showing shut-off date
  • Proof of heating emergency
  • A copy of the last bill for deliverable fuels
  • The red tag for furnace repairs or a complete description of the problem

 

Application Filing Dates

The starting LIHEAP application filing dates for each state for each type of assistance are included in the table below.

 

2014 LIHEAP Application Filing Dates

 

Heating Filing Date

Cooling Filing Dates

Crisis Filing Dates

Alabama

Oct 1 - May 31

June 1 - Sep 30

 

Year-round

Alaska

Sept 1 - April 30

 

Oct 1 - April 30

Arizona

 

Year round

 

Arkansas

Year round

 

Year round

California

Year round

 

Year round

Colorado

Nov 1 - April 30

 

Nov 1 - April 30

Connecticut

Nov 15 – May 1

 

Nov 15 – May 1

Delaware

Oct 1 – Mar 31

May 1 - Sep15

Jan 3 - March 30

D.C.

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

Florida

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

Georgia

Nov 1

August 3

Dec 1

Hawaii

June 1 - June 30

 

June 1 - June 30

Idaho

Nov 1 - Mar 31

 

Year-round

Illinois

Sep 1 – Mar 30

 

Oct 1 - May 31

Indiana

Nov 1 – May 15

June 4 – Aug 31

Nov 1 – May 15

Iowa

Oct 1 – April 30

 

Year-round

Kansas

Jan 13 - Mar 30

 

Jan 13 - March 30

Kentucky

Nov 7 - Dec 16

 

Jan 4 - March 31

Louisiana

Oct 1 - Mar 31

April 1 - Sep 30

Year-round

Maine

Oct 1 - April 30

 

Nov 1 -March 31

Maryland

July 1 - Mar 21

 

Nov 16 - March 31

Massachusetts

Nov 1 - April 30

 

Nov 1 - April 30

Michigan

Year-round

 

Year-round

Minnesota

Oct 3 - May 31

 

Oct 3 - June 30

Mississippi

Oct 1 - April 30

May 1 - Sep 30

Year-round

Missouri

Oct 1 - Mar 31

June 1 - Sep 30

Year-round

Montana

Oct 1 - June 30

 

Year-round

Nebraska

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

Nevada

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

New Hampshire

Year-round

 

Year-round

New Jersey

Nov 1- Apr 30

Nov 1- April 30

Nov 1- April 30

New Mexico

Oct 1 - Aug 31

Oct 1 - Aug 31

Oct 1 - Aug31

New York

Nov 16 - Mar 16

 

Jan 3 - March 16

North Carolina

Dec 1 – Jan 31

Year-round

Year-round

North Dakota

Oct 1 - May 31

 

Year-round

Ohio

Aug 1 - May 31

 

Nov 3 - March 31

Oklahoma

Dec 1 - Dec 22

July 18 - Aug 15

Year-round

Oregon

Oct 1 - June 30

 

Year-round

Pennsylvania

Nov 1 - April 13

 

Jan 3 - April 13

Rhode Island

Oct 1 - April 15

 

Year-round

South Carolina

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

South Dakota

Oct 1 - Mar 15

 

Oct 1 - March 31

Tennessee

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

Texas

Year-round

March - Nov

Year-round

Utah

Nov 1 - April 30

 

Year-round

Vermont

July 6 – Feb 28

 

Nov 28 - April 30

Virginia

Oct 1 - Nov 14

Jun 27 - Aug 15

Nov 1 - March 15

Washington

Year-round

Year-round

Year-round

West Virginia

Jan 17 - 27

 

Mar 19 - funds spent

Wisconsin

Oct 3 – May 15

 

Year-round

Wyoming

Oct 1 - Feb 29

 

Oct 1 - April 15