LIHEAP in Wisconsin
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Wisconsin LIHEAP is commonly referred to as the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) throughout the state. WHEAP combines both the LIHEAP program and the Public Benefits Energy Assistance Program to offer comprehensive financial assistance to low-income households that need help paying their heating or electricity costs. Since the state is known for its brutally cold winters, the program focuses mainly on providing assistance for heating bills and does not provide assistance for cooling costs associated with running air conditioners in the summer months.
In WI energy assistance is important so that households can keep their homes comfortable and warm for all family members. This financial assistance is especially important for residents who are elderly and disabled or households that have young children. However, not all applicants can receive heating assistance through the program. They must meet strict eligibility criteria before program representatives will provide them with help paying their bills. To learn about the benefits available, qualifications and the application process, review the following sections.
Types of LIHEAP Energy Assistance in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is helpful for low-income residents who are having trouble paying their heating costs or completing repairs on their heating elements. There are several different ways an eligible applicant can receive the benefits of the program. The type of assistance provided depends on the beneficiary’s situation and needs. In addition to the benefits discussed below, the program also provides informative and educational resources on weatherization and energy conservation for eligible families.
This is the most common form of financial assistance provided by the program. Applicants who simply need financial assistance paying their heating bills are provided with funds for monthly utility costs. Only one payment is provided to an eligible applicant per heating season. With this heating utility assistance, vendors can continue providing services to the household. However, these funds usually only pay a portion of the monthly bill and program beneficiaries are responsible for the rest of the balance.
Financial assistance for electricity is provided through the Public Benefits program and is often referred to as WHEAP electric (non-heating) assistance. It is a one-time payment provided to an eligible applicant that can be used for the electric bill for the home. These benefits are only available during the heating season but can be used for electric instead of heat.
Crisis utility bill assistance for low income families in WI is also provided through this government-funded program. If a household has no heat or a utility provider has threatened to disconnect the heat due to unpaid bills, crisis assistance may be provided if the family meets the program’s eligibility criteria. Additionally, households that use fuel as their main source of heat and are running low but cannot afford to replenish may also be provided with crisis benefits if they qualify. A program representative may also negotiate with a heating vendor on a beneficiary’s behalf to create payment plans or other solutions to ensure the heat stays on in the home.
If a resident decides to apply for LIHEAP crisis benefits and he or she qualifies, the program may also provide assistance repairing or replacing the furnace or boiler. However, to receive this assistance, a household must prove that the heating element is not working or needs repair and that the family cannot afford to complete the task without financial assistance. To find out more about the Wisconsin LIHEAP program benefits available to eligible applicants, read through our comprehensive guide.
What are the Wisconsin LIHEAP eligibility guidelines?
The LIHEAP income guidelines in Wisconsin are based on the number of household members in an applicant’s home and the current Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The gross income earned must be within a certain percentage of the FPL for a household to qualify for benefits. Most types of home heating sources can qualify a home to receive benefits from the program, including:
- Natural gas.
- Fuel oil.
However, to meet the WI LIHEAP guidelines, an applicant must be a resident in the state and prove that he or she is responsible for paying the heating bill. An eligible beneficiary can be a tenant or homeowner but he or she must prove that the household is facing financial hardship in relation to the heating bill.
How to Apply for LIHEAP in Wisconsin
Currently, you cannot apply for LIHEAP online in Wisconsin but there are several locations throughout the state where you can complete the application process. You must speak with a representative at your local agency so that he or she can review your potential for program eligibility and the benefit amount you may receive, if you qualify.
While you cannot complete the WI LIHEAP application online, you can use the program’s website to locate assistance agencies in your area. These agencies may be county social services offices, tribal governments, government agencies or non-profit organizations. When you call to make an appointment with your local agency, you will be informed about the type of information or documentation you may need to bring with you when you visit to complete the application process. To find out more about the LIHEAP application form and process, download and review our informative online guide.
How much does LIHEAP pay in Wisconsin?
If you apply for energy assistance in Wisconsin, it is important to keep in mind you can only receive with a one-time payment that covers a portion of your heating bill. The benefit amount that is provided is based on your household size, how much heating assistance your family needs and the amount of funding still available for the season through the program. In most cases, the one-time heating or electric payment is provided directly to the vendor to be applied to your account balance.
If you are applying for crisis assistance, your situation is analyzed by a program representative quickly after you have contacted your local agency. If you are eligible, you are provided the financial assistance needed to ensure your household continues to be provided with heating service. Additionally, assistance for furnace or boiler repairs is also provided on an as-needed basis, as long as the program still has funds and you can prove your need for the repairs.
How can I check the status of my LIHEAP application?
To check your LIHEAP application status in Wisconsin, you must contact the local agency where you applied for the program. A representative may be reviewing your application to determine your eligibility and benefit amount. He or she will notify you if more information is needed or when your application has been processed. You can only apply for benefits once a year during the program’s heating season.