Through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), people…

by: Mohammad Hafiz

Through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), people with propane may receive assistance to pay their winter heating bills. if

}LIHEAP AvailabilityPeople who need help with their propane bill may contact their local county government office, or find a Community Action Agency that offers the assistance. Some nonprofits and churches have private funds available to assist families with the propane bill. Assistance with propane bills is available during the winter months, because the purpose of the program is to help low-income families stay safe during extremely cold weather. EligibilityFamilies who wish to receive assistance with a propane bill must call the local agencies as soon as possible. Many agencies require applicants to schedule an appointment, because the number of families who request assistance with any energy bill is far too extensive for small offices to service walk-in clients. Agency staff members will determine the household eligibility by calculating the gross income for the entire household, including nonrelated people who live in the home. The income limits are based on a percentage of the federal poverty level. Visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services website to view the income guidelines for LIHEAP. if

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}Home Energy and Crisis AssistanceLIHEAP offers two main types of assistance to low-income families, but the disbursement of the payment to the propane company may vary from state to sate. A basic Home Energy Assistance benefit is available to low-income people, whether they are behind on their heating bill or not. Most agencies will need to approve an application before staff members send the documentation to another office to prepare a payment to the propane office. Some families may receive a credit on their propane account that is more then their current month's bill. Some state agencies may break up the benefit into six monthly payments during the winter. For example, if a family applies for and is eligible for a $250 benefit, they may receive $41.61 paid toward each of their six bills in winter. A crisis assistance benefit is only available if a client is behind on her bill. The amount available from the agency to pay toward a crisis is only the amount that is past due. For example, if a family receives a bill for $200 in October and is unable to pay it, and then receives a bill for another $200 due at the end of November, the bill might show that the family owes $400; however, unless the family requests assistance after the second due date, the only amount past due is the $200 for the month of October. A crisis benefit alleviates the exact amount of a past due bill up to a certain limit. Keep in mind that, though the assistance is called "crisis," families may not be able to apply for assistance any sooner then the agency is able to schedule appointments. A secretary or staff member may not be able to schedule any more appointments, regardless of the "crisis" predicament the family is experiencing.

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