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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 Virginia, LIHEAP is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services.

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

For more information about LIHEAP in Virginia, click here.

What Does LIHEAP Cover in Virginia?

The Virginia Department of Social Services 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 Virginia, see the Virginia 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 Virginia defines a “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 of $2,500.

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

How Much Assistance Does LIHEAP Provide in Virginia?

To determine the amount of energy assistance for which you are eligible, the Virginia Department of Social 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.

As of 2022, the maximum annual benefit amount in Virginia is $668 for heating and $550 for cooling, and the minimum annual benefit amount is $205 for heating and $50 for cooling.

How to Qualify for LIHEAP in Virginia

To qualify for LIHEAP in Virginia, 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 Virginia Department of Social 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 Virginia 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 Virginia

Eligible households can usually apply for LIHEAP heating assistance from the second Tuesday in October until the second Friday in November each year. Likewise, eligible households can only apply for LIHEAP cooling assistance from June 15 until August 15 each year. LIHEAP applications cannot be submitted year-round.

To apply for LIHEAP in Virginia, 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 online, by phone or in person. 

To apply online, complete the digital application on the Virginia Benefits Portal here.

To apply by phone, call the Enterprise Customer service Center Monday to Friday from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM at (855) 635-4370. 

To apply in person, find your nearest Department of Social Services (DSS) office and contact information here.

  1. Submit the LIHEAP application and other required documents.

Access the Virginia LIHEAP heating application here and cooling application here.

Note that applications for Crisis Assistance, for households that meet the state definition of a crisis, can be submitted from November 1st through March 15.

If you have questions about the application process or require assistance, contact your nearest Department of Social Services (DSS) office. Find your nearest DSS office here.

What You Will Need to Apply

When applying for Virginia 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 Department of Social Services office where you applied to directly to check your application status.

Click here to find your local office and contact information.

What Happens After You Apply for LIHEAP in Virginia?

The Virginia Department of Social Services 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 are denied Virginia LIHEAP benefits, you may request a hearing to appeal the decision by writing a statement to your local Department of Social Services (DSS) office where you applied within 30 days of when you received the denial. Find your nearest local DSS office here.

If the DSS representative cannot resolve the dispute, you can request a hearing with the Appeals and Fair Hearing Unit. To begin this process, access the Appeal to the State Department of Social Services form here and mail it to:
Hearing and Legal Services Manager
Appeals and Fair Hearing Unit
Virginia Department of Social Services
801 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219-3301

Once the Appeals and Fair Hearing Unit 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 Social Services by:

Need More Help?

If you have questions about LIHEAP benefits in Virginia or require further assistance, contact your local Department of Social Services office. Find your nearest Department of Social Services (DSS) office and contact information here.

You can also contact the DSS Energy Assistance phone line at (804) 726-7386. Or, contact the Department of Social Services via the following methods:

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.

Last Updated: September 20, 2022