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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. For the U.S. Tribal Nations, LIHEAP is administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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

For more information about LIHEAP in Tribal Nations, click here.

What Does LIHEAP Cover for the Tribal Nations?

The Office of Community Services within the DHHS oversees LIHEAP benefits and provides financial assistance for heating 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 within Tribal Nations, see the Tribal Nations LIHEAP Manual here.

The Tribal Nations LIHEAP program does not provide financial compensation for cooling expenses. However, it does assist with cooling emergencies if applicants qualify for Crisis Assistance.

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 Tribal Nations defines “crisis situation” as one where a household:

  • Has no more than 2 days (48 hours) of bulk fuel left,
  • Is in danger of having their utilities disconnected, or
  • Has already had their utilities disconnected by their service provider.

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 the energy loss,
  • A member of the household has a condition that requires the use of a medical device/medication that requires energy OR
  • A household has no more than 18 hours of bulk fuel remaining during winter when heating is required.

For qualifying households, the maximum annual benefit amount for LIHEAP Crisis Assistance is a one-time payment. To find out the maximum payment amount for your tribe, click here.

How Much Assistance Does LIHEAP Provide for the Tribal Nations?

To determine the amount of energy assistance for which you are eligible, the Office of Community Services 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.

To check the benefit amount available for your tribe or territory, click here.

How to Qualify for LIHEAP for the Tribal Nations

To qualify for LIHEAP in Tribal Nations, 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 Office of Community Services 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 Tribal Nations 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 (LIHEAP). Learn more here.

How to Apply for LIHEAP for the Tribal Nations

Eligible households can apply for LIHEAP assistance during different parts of the year depending on their tribe. LIHEAP applications cannot be submitted year-round for all Tribal Nations. Click here to see when you can apply for LIHEAP depending on your tribe or location.

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

  1. Gather the documentation and information you will need for the application.
  1. Choose how you are going to apply, whether by phone or in person. 

Find the nearest LIHEAP office for your tribe and contact information for tribes here.

  1. Submit the LIHEAP application and other required documents.

Contact your local LIHEAP office and ask how they would prefer you submit your application. Find all available contact information here.

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 the nearest LIHEAP office for your tribe. Find your nearest coordinator here.

What You Will Need to Apply

When applying for Tribal Nations 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 by contacting your local LIHEAP office here.

How to Check Your Application Status

You can call the LIHEAP 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 for the Tribal Nations?

Your LIHEAP office will notify you within 30 days of 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 do not agree with the LIHEAP benefit decision given to you, you can file an appeal with the Departmental of Appeals Board. In most cases, you have a set time limit to file an appeal after receiving your determination letter.

To file an appeal, contact your local LIHEAP office. You will need to speak with a

representative and tell them why you are appealing your determination. You will also need to

bring your benefit determination letter and evidence that supports your appeal. Find LIHEAP office contact information here.

You may need to submit a request in writing with a state form or a letter that includes the

following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • The reason for your appeal
  • Your desired solution for how the agency should remedy the situation

You must also enclose a copy of your determination letter when filing an appeal. For more information on the appeal process, contact your local LIHEAP office. Find LIHEAP office contact information here.

Need More Help?

If you have questions about LIHEAP benefits in Tribal Nations or require further assistance, contact your local LIHEAP office. Find your nearest office and contact information here.

You can also contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) Project at1(866) 674-6327 or email energy@ncat.org if you need help finding where and how to apply for LIHEAP in your area.

Or, call the Department of Health and Welfare’s LIHEAP Clearinghouse phone line at (406) 494-8662 for more information.

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 and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.