LIHEAP in Virginia
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Virginia LIHEAP is referred to throughout the state as the Energy Assistance (EA) program. Administered by the Department of Social Services, the program is designed to provide financial assistance for heating and cooling costs to low-income households that cannot afford to pay these utility bills. By providing this energy assistance in VA to eligible families, government program funding is used to ensure that all residents can maintain comfortable environments for their households.
Utility assistance is not provided to every family in the state and it is not available at all times throughout the year. There are specific periods of time when the program accepts applications, determines eligibility and distributes benefits to qualifying households. Before attempting to apply for financial assistance, potential applicants should first review this eligibility criteria and the application timeframes available for the type of benefits needed. To find out more about the heating assistance and cooling assistance provided by this program, as well as the eligibility requirements and application processes, read through the information provided below.
Types of LIHEAP Energy Assistance in Virginia
The Virginia Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as EA, provides heating, cooling, crisis and weatherization assistance to qualifying applicants when they prove their need for financial help. There are different eligibility criteria that must be met, depending on the type of assistance an applicant is asking to obtain through the program. Before applying to the program to receive assistance, potential applicants should review the specific benefits available to learn what they may need.
To apply for LIHEAP fuel assistance, an applicant must prove he or she needs assistance with the heating bills. The applicant must also prove he or she is responsible for this bill and meets all other eligibility criteria. After program approval, the beneficiary is provided with financial assistance to distribute directly to fuel costs and the heating vendor. This ensures the household can continue to heat the home throughout the winter months.
The VA LIHEAP program also provides crisis benefits to households that are in danger of having utility services cut off due to unpaid bills. Crisis assistance is only available during the winter months to assist with:
- Heating costs.
- Repairs and replacements of heating components, such as furnaces.
- The purchase of fuel.
- Finding emergency shelters, if needed.
Applicants must prove they are in emergency situations and must meet all other program eligibility criteria.
Throughout the summer months, utility bill assistance for low income families is provided through the program for air conditioning costs. However, to be eligible to receive these benefits, the household must prove it is in need of cooling equipment or assistance with the bill. In addition to meeting all program eligibility, the household must also have a member who is one of the following:
- Living with a disability.
- Younger than 6 years of age.
These benefits are only available for qualifying applicants during the program’s open application periods.
In addition to these benefits, weatherization assistance is also available for needy residents. This assistance is provided through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to eligible applicants. By weatherizing a low-income family’s home, utility bills can be reduced and are more affordable each month.
What are the Virginia LIHEAP eligibility guidelines?
There are specific Virginia LIHEAP income guidelines that you must meet, no matter which type of assistance you apply for through the EA program. These requirements are based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and your household size. All adult members in your household combined must earn a certain percentage of the FPL to receive assistance through the program.
To be defined as a household, you must:
- Be a group of residents living together as one unit.
- Share the energy in the house that is provided through the utility vendor.
- Have heating expenses for the home.
If you meet this definition of a household and the VA LIHEAP guidelines for income, you should complete the application process thoroughly. The program asks for information on the application, as well as verification of income and other statements made on the application before approval. Keep in mind, if you are applying for crisis assistance, you may need to provide additional proof that you are facing an emergency situation. If you are applying for cooling assistance, you may be required to prove your household meets the additional LIHEAP eligibility guidelines for this help before it is provided.
How to Apply for LIHEAP in Virginia
You can complete the LIHEAP application online in Virginia to instantly submit your information to the department at any time of day. Additionally, the online system also provides an eligibility screening that you can complete first to determine if you may be eligible for benefits. To use the online application system, you must:
- Create an online account.
- Complete all information, including household income calculations.
- Submit the application.
- Provide requested documents for verification.
When you apply for energy assistance online in VA, you may receive a phone call or email from the department asking you to provide identification or other documentation to verify the statements you provided. You may need to visit your local social services office or mail these documents to submit them successfully.
Additionally, you can complete a LIHEAP application form and mail or deliver it in person to your local social services department. You can also call the Enterprise Customer Service Center and speak with a representative to start the application process. However, keep in mind there are specific dates when the department accepts applications, depending on the assistance you are seeking. To learn more about when applications are accepted, review our comprehensive online guide.
How much does LIHEAP pay in Virginia?
If you qualify for Virginia LIHEAP, you will receive a notification from the department that outlines your beneficiary status and the amount of assistance you will receive. Generally, this financial assistance is distributed directly to your utility provider for delivery of fuel or service. Benefits amounts are determined based on your household’s need and the availability of program funds you have been accepted.
How can I check the status of my LIHEAP application?
After you apply for the EA program, you may want to check your Virginia LIHEAP application status if you are waiting to learn if you are eligible for the program. You should receive a notification from the department that reviews whether you qualify for benefits and if so, the benefit amount that may be provided. In most cases, this financial assistance is distributed directly to the utility vendor to assist with your unpaid bills for service or fuel delivery.
If you applied online, you can sign into your account to review the status of your application. If you applied in person, by phone or by mail, you can contact the local office to speak with a representative about your status. To find out more about determining your LIHEAP application status, read through our informative guide.