LIHEAP in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania LIHEAP is a government assistance program that is often commonly referred to as the Heating Assistance program, due to the benefits it provides eligible applicants. The program is administered by the Department of Human Services, and potential applicants can only enroll during certain times of the year. Since the program provides assistance for heating and heating equipment repairs, open enrollment usually occurs during the winter months. With limited funds, the program cannot extend benefits to all residents and only eligible applicants receive these funds.
To receive energy assistance in PA, an applicant does not have to already be enrolled in other government assistance programs. However, the household must meet specific income guidelines. There are many types of benefits available through the program and the specific assistance provided is determined on a case-by-case basis. To learn more about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, including the eligibility guidelines and the benefits provided to eligible households, read through the following sections.
Types of LIHEAP Energy Assistance in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania LIHEAP program offers different types of financial help to qualifying households, depending on the assistance needed. The program provides cash assistance, either directly to the homeowner or tenant or to the utility provider. If the cash is distributed directly to the utility company, it can be used to pay for heating bills or account activation fees for the program beneficiary.
In addition to regular utility bill assistance for low income families in PA, the program also provides assistance for crises and emergencies. Households that have applied for benefits and are in danger of losing service due to unpaid bills can get this cash assistance quickly. If a household were to apply for LIHEAP emergency benefits, the applicant is claiming that one of the following is true:
- The household is in danger of having utilities being shut off due to unpaid bills.
- The heating equipment is damaged and needs repair.
- The heating equipment is not functioning and needs replacement.
- The household’s fuel supply is running extremely low and cannot afford to be replaced.
Households that qualify for program benefits and can prove emergency assistance is needed may receive both regular and crisis benefits. Potential applicants facing emergencies can apply for benefits with the program at any time and will usually receive notifications of eligibility much faster than when applying for regular benefits.
What are the Pennsylvania LIHEAP eligibility guidelines?
The Pennsylvania LIHEAP income guidelines are strict because program representatives want to ensure only needy residents are obtaining cash assistance. Since the program has limited funding each year, it can only provide a certain amount of cash assistance for heating to residents throughout the state. By enforcing these strict low-income guidelines, the state ensures that only needy residents are approved for benefits. An applicant can be a tenant or homeowner and is not required to provide an unpaid utility bill to qualify. Additionally, if no household members are currently receiving other government assistance benefits, the applicant may still qualify for the program.
To meet LIHEAP guidelines in PA, an applicant must:
- Show a need for financial assistance to meet the costs of heating in the home.
- Be a resident of Pennsylvania.
- Meet the program’s current low-income guidelines.
The LIHEAP eligibility guidelines for low income are based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and the number of household members living together in the applicant’s home. This level is set by the government and is adjusted annually. Therefore, the program’s low-income guidelines can also change each year.
To find out more about these low-income guidelines, download our informative online guide.
How to Apply for LIHEAP in Pennsylvania
Most potential applicants prefer to apply for LIHEAP online in Pennsylvania because it easy, convenient and can be done at any time. Residents applying for regular benefits can only enroll during certain times throughout the year. However, emergency benefit applicants can apply at any time.
The application requests several pieces of information, including:
- The names, Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and dates of birth of all household members.
- Proof of income for each household member.
To complete the LIHEAP application online, an applicant must visit the state’s benefits site and create a user account. After providing as much information as possible and submitting the form, the applicant will learn about his or her eligibility status. The department may ask for documentation and evidence that supports the claims made in the online application.
To complete the PA LIHEAP application form by mail or fax, a potential applicant must locate the form online, print it, complete it and mail it to his or her local county assistance office. Potential applicants who prefer to apply in person must find local country assistance offices and make appointments with representatives. These applicants are required to bring in documentation and information with them to complete the applications thoroughly.
How much does LIHEAP pay in Pennsylvania?
The amount of Pennsylvania LIHEAP benefits a household is awarded can vary and depends on the size of the household and the need expressed throughout the energy assistance application process. Program recipients should keep in mind that the financial assistance provided through the program is given in the form of grants. These monetary awards do not need to be paid back. However, the amounts provided by the program may not be enough to pay for entire utility bills or reactivation fees. Generally, the amounts provided only contribute to these expenses and applicants are required to supplement the remaining balance.
The exact amount of PA energy assistance provided also depends on the county in which the eligible applicant lives and the amount of funding still available for the program for the year. Additionally, the type of fuel a household uses can affect the amount of benefits provided. The Department of Health provides an online benefit calculation tool for residents.
To find out how to calculate the amount of utility assistance an eligible household could be awarded, review our comprehensive guide.
How can I check the status of my LIHEAP application?
If you chose to complete a LIHEAP application online in Pennsylvania, you can sign back into your user account to check the status. If you contacted a local county assistance office and applied in person or by mail, you can call that office to check on the status.
Before you attempt to check your LIHEAP application status in Pennsylvania, keep in mind it may take the office at least one month to send a notification to your household regarding potential benefits. If you applied for crisis or emergency assistance, however, you should hear about your eligibility status promptly after submitting your application.