Sometimes the scariest thing you’ll have to face in the world is your electric bill. And it’s no joke. Unless you decide to divorce modern life, it is up to you to bear the brunt of paying utilities every single month. But there’s good news for those who are low-income. You can apply to the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which assists low-income individuals or families with the energy-related expenses, especially to ensure that homes are provided with heat and air conditioning.
LIHEAP provides assistance with cool/heating costs, in addition to emergency support should the utilities get shut off due to unforeseen circumstances. Some of the funds also help with weatherization, since it also helps reduce energy expenditures. Sewer and water bills are usually not included in the financial assistance, except if water is being used to supply the air conditioning units.
How Coronavirus Can Affect Your Bills and How LIHEAP Can Help
In this unprecedented time, Americans are facing new issues constantly due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. One of the issues that many Americans do not realize that they may be facing is the fact that they will see more financial hardship from an increased cost of bills, lack of income due to economic closures, and more. However, many people do not truly realize how much coronavirus is affecting their bills.
In fact, according to Arcadia, it is estimated that Americans will have spent between an additional $2 – $37 more on their utility bills every month just in summer alone. You should expect to be paying a higher additional amount on your utilities in areas where there is a higher people density. While this may not seem like a substantial amount of money, it adds up, and is more impactful on lower-income individuals and families.
That is why now more than ever programs like LIHEAP are proving to be a great asset in maintaining affordable costs of living like managing energy bills. It is important that you see if you are eligible to receive assistance through completing an application process.
Step 1 Contact your Local LIHEAP Office: It’s important that you make contact with those who are responsible for assisting those wishing to apply to the LIHEAP program. In some areas of the nation, online applications will suffice.
Step 2 Emphasize Your Needs: Whether you’re going to do an online or paper application, your dire need for these benefits needs to be emphasized and you need to work hard to make your case strong.
Step 3 Know Your Rights: If you’re in a low-income group and if you are already receiving social security benefits or food stamps, then your case of receiving LIHEAP help is very strong. Make sure that you as an applicant are well informed of the requirements of your local area to see if anything specific is needed.
Avoiding Wrong Expectations
It’s important to know that the LIHEAP program is meant to offer financial assistance but does not cover every single expense you have. It is for this reason that you should not develop incorrect expectations that you are in for a free ride.
What Else to Know About LIHEAP
Many Americans do not realize that they may be automatically eligible to receive LIHEAP assistance if they are a recipient or have family members that are recipients of other specific benefit programs like TANF, SSI, or SNAP. You also want to utilize online resources to better understand the LIHEAP program from eligibility requirements to how it can help your situation. There are free online resources available like benefits.gov that can provide all the information you need in an easy to access place. There are also other resources available like the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project which is a free service that is designed to provide information to interested individuals on the application process. The hours of this service are Monday to Friday 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. (MT). You can also reach out through the toll-free number (1-866-674-6327), or email [email protected].
These free resources can help you with questions or concerns that you may have about the LIHEAP program, provide you any and all additional information you may need about the program, and more.
Managing your bills can be a difficult task to manage. It can be hard to navigate available programs, all while dealing with financial hardship. Luckily, there are free resources available that can help you take on this task and achieve the goal of making your bills more affordable! Make sure to research the LIHEAP program and contact the available resources if you need any additional assistance before applying.