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While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the LIHEAP program and compiled a guide and the following answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get the benefits that you need by providing useful information on the process.
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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.
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:
For more information about LIHEAP’s heating assistance initiative in California, see the California state LIHEAP Detailed Model Plan here.
California’s LIHEAP program does not provide financial compensation for cooling expenses. However, it does assist with cooling emergencies if applicants qualify for 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 defines a “crisis situation” as one where a household:
A “life-threatening crisis situation” also qualifies a household for Crisis Assistance. This occurs when:
For qualifying households, the maximum annual benefit amount for LIHEAP Crisis Assistance is a one-time payment of $1,000.
Learn more about Crisis Assistance on page 12 of the Detailed Model Plan here.
To determine the amount of energy assistance for which you are eligible, the California Department of Community Services and Development will consider:
Also, whether you are eligible for regular LIHEAP payments or Crisis Assistance payments will influence your maximum benefit amount.
As of 2020, the maximum annual benefit amount in California is $1,000 and the minimum annual benefit amount is $152. 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.
To qualify for LIHEAP in California, you must meet the following requirements:
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:
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:
Learn what documents and information you need to complete the process here.
Find your nearest Community Services and Development (CSD) office and contact information here.
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.
When applying for California LIHEAP benefits, you will need to provide:
The state will need the following documents and information to confirm your eligibility for LIHEAP benefits:
Learn more about the documentation needed during the LIHEAP application process here.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.