Need Help Paying for Electric, Gas Bills? How to Apply for LIHEAP and Who’s Eligible – NBC 6 South Florida

The Biden government is distributing an additional $ 4.5 billion in funds to help low-income Americans meet heating bills during a second winter pandemic, with cold-weather states receiving the largest share, according to a state breakdown released Friday.

The funding boost – part of last year’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package from the American Rescue Plan – has more than doubled normal funding levels for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This appropriation represents the largest allocation in a single year since the program was launched in 1981.

The Associated Press received an advance copy of the state allocation breakdown showing a clear prioritization of cold-weather states with higher heating bills. Minnesota, for example, received nearly $ 274 million in home help for residents in need. Meanwhile, Texas, which has a population five times the size, got only $ 10 million more. New York state, with a population of less than 20 million versus 29 million in Texas, received just under $ 876 million.

President Joe Biden’s administration also announced pledges from seven major utility companies across the country to guarantee no barriers to customers seeking help, and to identify and notify beneficiaries who are eligible for state aid.

The new commitments, announced on Friday morning, come from Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas and Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, PECO and Pepco. They join seven other major utility companies that made similar commitments late last year.

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According to the Ministry of Labor’s consumer price index, electricity and natural gas prices are around 11% higher than a year ago. According to the Energy Information Administration, heating oil prices for residential buildings have increased by about 40%. The magnitude of the increase has weakened in recent months, as wholesale heating oil prices are roughly the same as at the beginning of October.

The aid is intended to help cushion the shock of the rise in energy costs in winter. However, Republican lawmakers have said that the general aid package signed by the Democratic president in March resulted in higher inflation by pumping too much money into the economy.

How to apply for help with your electricity bill at home

To find out where to apply for government aid to pay your home energy bills, click here for a state information guide. You can also find a list of local agencies that help families apply for energy aid by searching. search Your county here.

For more information on where to apply for LIHEAP, call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project toll-free number at 1-866-674-6327 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. ET to 7:00 p.m. ET on. You can also email your questions to [email protected]

Who is eligible for the program?

Anyone in need of financial assistance with home energy bills is eligible for this program.

If you or a family member in your household is currently enrolled in certain other government benefit programs such as SNAP, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Families in Need (TANF), you may be eligible automatically.

To be eligible, you must have an annual household income (before tax) that is less than the following:

Will the program cover my entire electricity bill?

Probably not. LIHEAP is not intended to pay for all of your energy bills for the year, season, or even month.

In many states, help is only available from your primary source of heat. For example, if your home is heated by gas, you will likely only get help with your gas bills and not with your utility bills, as they provide electricity to other utilities. So you could get help with one or the other bill.

Due to the distribution of LIHEAP funds, some countries receive more LIHEAP funds than others and can pay higher benefits.

The households that have the highest household energy costs or needs, taking into account income and family size, receive the highest benefits. The amount of help you will get depends on where you live, your income, your energy costs or needs, and your family size.

Can LIHEAP help pay other house bills?

No. LIHEAP funds can only be used to help you heat or cool your home. In general, LIHEAP funds may not be used to pay water, sewer or telephone bills. An exception is when water is used for air conditioning, for example in an evaporative cooler. In this case, LIHEAP funds can be used to pay water bills.

Can LIHEAP help me repair my stove or air conditioning?

Yes. The funds from the Energy Aid Program can be used to repair defective or inefficient ovens or air conditioning systems. However, not every state offers this type of assistance, and those who do have different rules about who is eligible. Check with your state program or local county council for qualifications.

Did you receive an unusually high electricity bill? Here is what you should do next.

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Associate press writers Ashraf Khalil and Josh Boak contributed to this report.

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