You can file a LIHEAP appeal if you disagree with the decision on your Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) application. If you find your request for LIHEAP denied, it means you were not approved to receive help with your heating or cooling bills. Most LIHEAP appeal requests are submitted because the applicant disagrees with the type of benefit or the amount of the help awarded. If you have applied for LIHEAP and had your LIHEAP application rejected, your notice should explain the reason it was not approved and how to appeal a LIHEAP denial in a timely manner.
LIHEAP denial reasons are extensive and a few are highlighted in the sections below. Read on to find out your rights regarding a LIHEAP appeal, learn how to request a LIHEAP denial hearing and find out what might happen during the LIHEAP appeals process.
What is a LIHEAP Denial?
If you had your LIHEAP application rejected, you will likely receive a written notice from your local LIHEAP agency explaining why. This is true whether LIHEAP denied a regular request for LIHEAP benefits or an emergency or crisis type of application. Your “LIHEAP Denied” letter will include important details explaining why your application did not meet the eligibility requirements of the program.
If your LIHEAP application was denied for reasons other than failing to meet the program’s eligibility requirements, that will also be explained. Sometimes a LIHEAP application is rejected because the applicant failed to provide full and complete information on the form. If this is the case, the LIHEAP agency will usually issue an incomplete notice before sending you an actual denial of benefits.
What are my LIHEAP appeal rights?
In most cases, you have the right to request a LIHEAP appeal if you do not agree with the decisions made regarding your application by your local LIHEAP agency. However, there are certain LIHEAP denial reasons that are exempt from the LIHEAP appeals process because appealing the decision cannot change the outcome. This type of denial happens when the applicant not meet the most basic requirements to be considered for this particular type of energy assistance.
For more information about why you may not have a right to the LIHEAP appeals process, download our free comprehensive guide.
Learn About Common Reasons for LIHEAP Denial
There are dozens of LIHEAP denial reasons, and some are preventable while others are not. For example, you may have gotten a LIHEAP denied letter because you neglected to include vital information about each member of your household. Providing the missing information may result in an approved claim for benefits. However, if your denial came because you have an income above the program’s limit, there is nothing that can be done to change the situation, so following the LIHEAP appeals process will probably not result in a different outcome.
Other reasons you may have your LIHEAP application rejected include having already received a benefit payment for the current year or if it turns out that a member of your household already received help from LIHEAP this year. Additionally, you will receive a denial if you cannot prove legal United States presence for each of the members of your household.
There are many other LIHEAP denial reasons, and you can learn more about them by downloading our free guide to benefits today.
What is the LIHEAP appeal process?
A LIHEAP appeal is the process by which you can argue against an agency’s denial of your claim and possibly receive the assistance that urged you to apply in the first place. Although each LIHEAP agency does things a little differently, the basic format for a LIHEAP appeal is similar regardless of which state or agency is offering the appeal.
You will be told how to appeal a LIHEAP denial in the notice you receive that details the outcome of your application process. You can ignore the LIHEAP appeal portion of the letter if you were approved for benefits, unless you disagree with the amount of benefits being paid to you or to your energy service provider. You can request a LIHEAP appeal and a fair hearing if you feel that you were not paid the full amount needed to help alleviate your energy deficit. However, keep in mind that LIHEAP is only meant to help you pay a portion of your heating or cooling costs, not pay for them in full.
You will see several options to begin your LIHEAP appeal and request a fair hearing, so choose the method that is most convenient for you. Note that if you are unable to file the LIHEAP appeal yourself, you may appoint a relative, friend or legal representative to do so on your behalf. Once you start the LIHEAP appeals process by submitting a request for a fair hearing, the LIHEAP agency has a certain amount of time to process this request.
There are a few circumstances where a LIHEAP appeal cannot be filed, but your energy assistance program caseworker can explain these to you before you submit your request. The LIHEAP appeals process is managed at the state level instead of the local level. Legal representatives at the state office will review all LIHEAP appeal requests and issue a decision within a certain timeframe.
What happens after the LIHEAP appeal hearing?
After the state-level agency hears both sides of the LIHEAP appeal request via the fair hearing process, it will issue a written decision. You may or may not receive benefits at that time, depending on the decision made. There may be an option to file another LIHEAP appeal if you disagree with the decision the state agency makes on your claim. Keep in mind that you have the right to take any complaints or concerns to the state or national agencies in charge of LIHEAP benefits.