This never-ending economic crisis has driven many American families against the wall, and the majority of low-income households have found themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to paying their utility bills.
On top of this, some of these households have faulty or broken heating/cooling systems, which can make life that much more difficult as well as present several safety issues for those residing in the home.
However, all is not lost, and the federal government can offer assistance to the aforementioned group of people through several means, be it footing the cost of a certain utility or paying for the necessary repairs on the home that would make habitation much easier and safer.
Regardless of what type of heating system you’re using in your home, you’re likely to be able to benefit from LIHEAP, and you’ll do yourself a huge service by further exploring this free assistance program.
What is LIHEAP?
Through LIHEAP, the government extends a helping hand to low-income households that may have trouble paying for their utility costs.
By offering to cover a certain portion of the household’s utility expenses, the program can allow the individual/family to focus on other, more important matters which could help lead them to financial independence later on.
Of course, safety comes first, and in the case of a heating system that’s been installed improperly or has broken down over the years, LIHEAP will send in a health and safety inspector to perform a thorough assessment of the home in question.
If it’s determined that the home requires extensive repairs and adjustments to its heating systems, LIHEAP will offer to cover the entirety or a portion of these costs.
This ensures that no family has to go through a cold winter worrying they’ll freeze if they’re unable to provide the funding to cover their heating bills.
Eligibility for LIHEAP depends on a number of factors, the most important ones being household size and the total annual income of all the adult household members.
This can also apply to renters, as a portion of their rent usually goes towards heating expenses, and they can lower the impact of these costs on their already shaky finances.
Due to the program being managed at a state level, you’ll encounter different eligibility criteria based on where you’re applying, so you’re best off contacting your local office to get the most up-to-date info on this.
You can either do this online, over the phone, or in person, which also applies to actually applying for the program as well. In general, a household will qualify for these benefits if their total combined annual income is below 60% of the state’s median income, putting them slightly below the poverty line.
Do note that not all of your income will count towards eligibility, and the money received through other welfare programs usually won’t contribute to this sum.
Applying for LIHEAP
Online applications for the program usually begin around a month before the annual heating season begins, meaning you’ve got until November 1st to secure your LIHEAP benefits.
To submit your application, you’re going to have to contact your local agency via e-mail, phone, or by visiting their office in person, where you’ll be asked to fill out a wide variety of paperwork.
If you’re already using the benefits from the program, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to reapply if you wish to keep receiving assistance.
First-time applicants may also be required to take part in an intake appointment, and you can find out more about this by discussing it with the management of your local agency.
After your first year of LIHEAP benefits, your reapplication will be sent to your mailbox, after which you can use the many aforementioned application methods to reapply for the program.
Do note that the agency will require you to submit photo identification, a list of all your household members as well as detailed information on your income and the heating bills you’re struggling to pay.
This info is also submitted every time you reapply, assuring that help is only given out to those that truly need it, preventing the program from being abused.
Heating bills can be difficult to manage for low-income households, and dealing with a cold home in the winter months can be pretty demoralizing.
This is why the federal government offers LIHEAP, the program purposely created to cover the costs of heating bills for these low-income families and individuals.
Through the program, these households can also get their hands on the many repairs their home’s heating system may have needed, preventing themselves from living in an unsafe environment.
The application process for the program is free of charge, and you’ll find that it’s particularly easy without requiring too much paperwork to be submitted.