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LIHEAP FAQ Sheets

Table of Contents 

What Is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program?

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance for energy costs to low-income households. LIHEAP is a federal program that is administered by individual states, territories, and tribes. In California, LIHEAP is administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD).

Learn more about LIHEAP by reviewing the federal program fact sheet here.

For more information about LIHEAP in California, click here.

What Does LIHEAP Cover in California?

The California Department of Community Services and Development oversees LIHEAP benefits and provides financial assistance for heating and cooling expenses to qualified households. Financial assistance can include payment for:

  • Past-due utility bills
  • Deliverable fuel (propane and wood)
  • Disconnection/reconnection fees
  • Repairs and replacements of worn parts on heating units
  • Home weatherization

For more information about LIHEAP’s heating assistance initiative in California, see the California state 2022 LIHEAP Detailed Model Plan here.

About LIHEAP Crisis Assistance

LIHEAP Crisis Assistance, like standard LIHEAP benefits, is a cash grant provided to the utility companies of eligible individuals in certain situations.

If your household meets all the eligibility requirements above and has an energy-related crisis, you may qualify for LIHEAP Crisis Assistance.

The state of California uses the federal definition of a “crisis situation” and may only use LIHEAP crisis funds for a household:

  • Effected by a natural disaster.
  • With a significant home energy supply shortage or disruption.
  • With an official declaration of a significant increase in home-energy costs, home-energy disconnections, public benefit program enrollment, unemployment or layoffs.
  • Effected by an official emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A “life-threatening crisis situation” also qualifies a household for Crisis Assistance. This occurs when:

  • A member of the household is a medical or health risk because of energy loss.
  • A member of the household has a condition that requires the use of a medical device/medication that requires energy.
  • A household is without heating, cooling or utility service during extreme weather conditions.

For qualifying households, the maximum annual benefit amount for LIHEAP Crisis Assistance is a one-time payment of $3,000.

Learn more about Crisis Assistance on page 12 of the Detailed Model Plan here.

How Much Assistance Does LIHEAP Provide in California?

To determine the amount of energy assistance for which you are eligible, the California Department of Community Services and Development will consider:

  1. Your household size and income for the month prior to your application
  2. The fuel type you need (electricity, propane, natural gas, or heating oil)

Also, whether you are eligible for regular LIHEAP payments or Crisis Assistance payments will influence your maximum benefit amount.

As of 2022, the maximum annual benefit amount in California is $726 and the minimum annual benefit amount is $247. These amounts apply for both heating and cooling assistance.

Note that the state of California uses average utility costs for each county to determine the maximum and minimum assistance amounts each year.

How to Qualify for LIHEAP in California

To qualify for LIHEAP in California, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of the state
  • At least one household member must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • Have an out-of-pocket energy expense from an account opened in the name of the head of the household or their spouse
  • Have an annual income that is less than the LIHEAP income limit for your household size, which is no more than 150 percent of the established Federal Poverty Level. To view the annual income limits, click here.

The California Department of Community Services and Development prioritizes households with elderly, disabled or young members. Elderly is considered 60 years or older, and young is considered five years old or younger.

Learn more about the LIHEAP financial eligibility requirements in California here.

If you or a member of your family participates in the benefit programs below, then you may automatically be eligible for LIHEAP based on your income:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn more here.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Learn more here.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Learn more here.

How to Apply for LIHEAP in California

Eligible households can only apply for LIHEAP assistance from November 1st until March 31st each year. LIHEAP applications cannot be submitted year-round.

To apply for LIHEAP in California, complete the following three steps:

  1. Gather the documentation and information you will need for the application.

Learn what documents and information you need to complete the process here.

  1. Choose how you are going to apply, whether by phone or in person. 

Find your nearest Community Services and Development (CSD) office and contact information here.

  1. Submit the LIHEAP application and other required documents.

Obtain the California LIHEAP application from your local CSD office.

Note that applications for Crisis Assistance, for households that meet the state definition of a crisis, can be submitted year-round.

If you have questions about the application process or require assistance, contact your nearest Community Services and Development (CSD) office. Find your nearest CSD office here.

What You Will Need to Apply

When applying for California LIHEAP benefits, you will need to provide:

  • Personal and financial information about yourself and the members of your household
  • Details about your home and its heating

The state will need the following documents and information to confirm your eligibility for LIHEAP benefits:

  • Names, birth dates and Social Security numbers for all household members
  • Utility bill information (vendor name and account number)
  • Residence information (landlord’s name, address and phone number, if renting)
  • Income verification for the last three months (pay stubs)

Learn more about the documentation needed during the LIHEAP application process here.

How to Check Your Application Status

You can call the CSD office where you applied directly to check your application status.

Click here to find your local office and contact information.

What Happens After You Apply for LIHEAP in California?

The California Department of Community Services and Development will notify you within after receiving your application if you are approved to receive benefits. All LIHEAP payments are made to the heating or energy provider directly. Benefit payments will not be sent to you.

How to Appeal a Denial of Benefits

If you are denied California LIHEAP benefits, you may request a hearing to appeal the decision by writing a statement to your local Community Services and Development (CSD) office where you applied within 15 days of when you received the denial. Find your nearest local CSD office here.

If the CSD representative cannot resolve the dispute, you can request a hearing with the Department of Community Services and Development. To begin this process, write a letter requesting an appeal and mail it to:
California Department of Community Services and Development
Utility and LIHEAP Assistance
2389 Gateway Oaks Drive #100
Sacramento, CA 95833

Once the Department of Community Services and Development receives the appeal, they will set up a hearing and notify you of the date, time and location.

If you have questions about the appeal process, contact the Department of Community Services and Development at:

  • Phone: (866) 675-6623
  • TTY: 711, 1 (800) 735-2929 or 1 (800) 855-3000 (Spanish)
  • Email: Web.Info@csd.ca.gov

Need More Help?

If you have questions about LIHEAP benefits in California or require further assistance, contact your local CSD office. Find your nearest Community Services and Development office and contact information here.

You can also contact the Department of Community Services and Development toll-free phone center at (866) 675-6623.

View or Download Our Free Guide

While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and compiled a guide that we believe is simple to use and easy to understand. Our goal is to help you get the benefits that you need by providing detailed information on the process.

Our free LIHEAP Guide is filled with helpful information about how to apply for LIHEAP, program eligibility requirements and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.

Last Updated: September 16, 2022