Family » Low-Income Households » How to Get Financial Help To Pay Your Utility Bills

How to Get Financial Help To Pay Your Utility Bills

By IntFormalities
Updated on August 30, 2023
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Since COVID-19 hit the world, a lot has changed. The economic consequences of the pandemic mean that many people are still struggling to manage their daily expenses and need help to pay utility bills. Fortunately, the United States government is attempting to lessen the burden by providing its citizens with utility billing relief. Have you heard about the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)? The LIHEAP protects low-income families by providing federally funded government assistance for utilities. If you’re eligible, you can apply online to receive energy assistance. Don’t know how? Keep reading to find out!

How to get financial help to pay utility bills?
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) aims to provide utility and energy crisis assistance.

What is the LIHEAP Program?

The LIHEAP Program involves multiple plans scheduled to help with bills for a whole year, whether it’s gas or electricity, by offering utility assistance to families below the poverty line. LIHEAP includes the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which offers one-time financial assistance to help an eligible household balance its utility bill, and the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) which assists low-income families in a crisis.

Through these funding initiatives, the state assists low-income families in making their houses more energy efficient. They can also help families who have bills that are past due and makes them in danger of being disconnected. The idea is to give low-income households the support they need to fulfill their home energy demands.

Depending on your situation, you can unlock the following utility bill benefits:

  • Low-income households can receive free energy efficiency upgrades through LIHEAP Weatherization to reduce their monthly electricity costs while simultaneously enhancing the health and safety of the home’s occupants.
  • Instruction on the proper use and upkeep of established weatherization measures and basic energy efficiency best practices
  • Energy budget advice
  • Among the various utility bill forgiveness plans, LIHEAP can assist you in beating the winter cold and summer heat with its reduced rate of energy consumption.

How Do You Become Eligible to Apply For This Program?

The applicant household must be liable for home heating or cooling expenses directly or as part of the rent. A person cannot obtain aid if they reside in public housing or receive rental assistance unless they pay their heating bills directly to the fuel supplier. They must have a gross income at or below 60% of the State Median Income to qualify for LIHEAP benefits. 

Even if you are eligible for LIHEAP, you may receive a rejection. The LIHEAP funds available for the year will determine whether you get accepted. 20% of households that are eligible for LIHEAP benefits typically obtain them. 

How Can You Apply For LIHEAP?

When you can apply, how you apply, and the requirements you must complete to receive assistance vary by state. However, applications are typically submitted in person and accepted every year from September through May. 

To apply for utility bill forgiveness, you will usually have to make your application in person at your local LIHEAP office. The locals in California can apply for energy assistance online using this link. After that, you will receive renewal forms through snail mail to enroll in heating assistance programs from the previous year. If required, you can inform your CAP agency of any changes to your address.

You will be offered secure and convenient intake locations if you’re over 65 years or disabled. For further information on applications, you can call (202) 401-9351.

What documents should you bring when applying for utility relief?

You must have the following documents to apply for LIHEAP:

  1. Applicant’s Current Driver’s License or Birth Certificate 
  2. Income verification for every adult (18 years old or older) living in the home.
  • If paid weekly, the previous four pay stubs are required.
  • You will want the most recent two pay stubs if you are paid biweekly.
  • If paid bimonthly, you’ll need your most recent two pay stubs.
  • The pay stub for the most recent month is required if paid monthly.
  1. You must have the person whose name is on the energy bill complete the responsibility statement if the bill isn’t in your name.
  2. The person providing support for the household must complete and sign the statement of support if there is no income for the entire home. You must also fill out the self-declaration of zero income.
  3. Complete the self-declaration of zero income form and include the names of every adult household member 18 or above who does not have a source of income.
  4. The most recent gas or electric bill-if using propane, kerosene, or wood, provide evidence of fill-ups throughout the previous year.
  5. A 12-month printout of energy supplier charges
How do you become eligible to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program?
20% of households that are eligible for LIHEAP benefits typically obtain them. 

How Much Money Does the Government Offer Under the LIHEAP program?

LIHEAP Cash Grants range from $500 to $1500 depending on the home’s size, location, income, and fuel type. In addition, there is no fee for LIHEAP program applications. A household must nevertheless continue to pay its utility bill throughout the application and approval process, and if authorized, it must continue to pay a portion of the cost.

The LIHEAP program requires participation from a household’s utility provider. To confirm participation and eligibility requirements, you should contact their utility company.

How Long Does It Take for the LIHEAP to Process?

The Regular Benefit approval procedure takes 30 days, after which you’ll receive a notification alerting you of approval or denial. However, if you apply for emergency assistance application, it only takes 48 hours. The payment period is 15 days after the approval.

The Bottom Line

LIHEAP has helped multiple families in the United States with their utility bill relief program. Income, household size, fuel type, and heating region all play a role in determining the LIHEAP heating benefit amount. Once accepted, you can participate in the program for an entire year. This comprehensive guide includes all the crucial information you need about LIHEAP and its services to get utility and energy crisis assistance.

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