The Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income households with their utility payments such as gas, electricity, and heating. A one-time fund is provided by LIHEAP to the deserving household so their energy bills can be catered to. The payment amount depends on the household size, income, geographical location, and fuel type.
The Illinois state and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides the funding for LIHEAP and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCEO) is responsible for administering the program. Non-profit or local community agencies provide these programs within Illinois.
Eligibility for LIHEAP
You must be under the pay limit set by the Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program if you want to apply for it. The combined income of your household must be less than 150% of the state poverty level from the previous 1 month. The concerned income amount is your total income, even before the deduction of taxes. If you are renting your residence and your electricity or heat is included, then the rental fee must be 30% greater than your income. Your eligibility is not affected if you pay for utilities through a landlord.
Any individual who himself/herself participates or has other participating family members in certain other assistance programs, such as SSI, TANF, and SNAP is automatically considered eligible for LIHEAP. A person can qualify for the Illinois Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for at least a year and this must be renewed every other year.
How soon you can get assistance via LIHEAP
You must contact the utility companies if you are applying for the first time. The processing of your application can take a maximum of 45 days. Mostly, a letter is received within a month after your application submission, if you qualify. Then, a grant is either issued to your utility company or you within half a month.
In case if you apply for emergency service assistance, then it is received after 2 days of your application submission. The utility firm will be notified by the agency after the approval of your application.
What happens after you qualify for LIHEAP?
After you qualify, the program reduces the maximum deposit sum, limits the amount of times you might have to pay a deposit, and eradicates late payment of fees. LIHEAP also decreases the maximum amount of compulsory down payments for the arrangements of payment and elevates the least months required to make payment arrangements.
After your application is approved, the administrator of the program notifies your electric or gas company that you have been qualified for the LIHEAP. However, the public utility sewer and water company must be notified by yourself of your qualification as a low-income consumer.
Types of assistance offered by LIHEAP
Following are 3 types of assistance that LIHEAP offers to low-income households.
Reconnection Assistance (RA)
If you have received a disconnection notice for a source of energy required for heating or have been already disconnected then you can apply for Reconnection Assistance.
Reconnection Assistance can also be requested if your fuel supplier has declined to facilitate you.
Although, RA is provided only if an effort has been made by you to restore the energy facility or you have partially paid the RA. You might receive Reconnection Assistance for both the primary and secondary energy services. For instance, you might receive one RA fee for the electricity bill and one for the gas bill in a year if you own both electric and gas facilities.
Emergency Services (ES)
In case of an extreme weather situation or a weather-associated natural disaster, the LIHEAP provides Emergency Services (ES). The provision of money depends on the availability of funds at the moment. Usually, the ES payment amount is the minimum money needed for reconnecting a household with the required utilities. You might only once receive an ES assistance during a year for some specific utility.
Furnace Assistance (FA)
In case you have been qualified for receiving RA payment but don’t own a heating supply or operating furnace, then you can qualify for Furnace Assistance (FA) as well.
Furnace benefits include tune-up, replacement, or repair. The Administering Agencies of Illinois operate the restoration of these essential heat supplies in the deserving homes.