Q. Does my utility bill have to be listed in my name?
A. Applicants must document that they are responsible for their home energy costs. Applicants who have a bill and pay directly to the energy vendor must present documentation that shows the applicant to be the Customer of Record with the energy vendor.
Q. I don't have a utility bill because my heat and electric services are included in my rent. Can I still apply for LIHEAP?
A. If you do not have any energy bills because energy costs are included in your rent payment, you must prove your monthly rent costs are greater than 30% of the household's income for the past 30 days.
Q. What kind of LIHEAP assistance is available?
A. According to funding availability and client's utility area, local agencies may offer up to four types of LIHEAP assistance:
- Energy Assistance: These one-time payments will apply to all income eligible households. Applicants must prove they are low income and responsible for their home heating costs, or if the applicant is a renter and has no utility bills, then the amount of the applicant’s rent must exceed 30% of the household’s income.
- Energy Assistance PIPP: Starting in Fall 2011, LIHEAP clients who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas may choose the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). Under PIPP, clients pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit toward their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date.
- Emergency Period: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity may set aside a portion of the State’s allocation for use in emergency situations. Under this component, funds may be used for either weather or supply emergencies that affect the entire eligible population or for emergency related situations that affect an individual household to the extent funds are available.
In the event of a weather-related natural disaster or extreme weather conditions, the department will develop an appropriate response designed to eliminate the threat to life and health. This assistance will be limited to energy-related crisis activities, such as pledges of payment to utilities, replacement of fuel tanks, heating system and water heater repair or replacement, purchase of fans, operation or support of local cooling centers, coordination with local social service agencies, air conditioners (where medically necessary), etc.
During emergency periods, emergency assistance will be provided within 48 hours from the date the client application is complete (all client documentation has been submitted), or within 18 hours in the event of a life-threatening situation affecting an individual household.
If the department has not declared an emergency period or the department has announced that the emergency period is no longer in effect, emergency assistance may be provided, although it may not be provided within 48 hours. Emergency assistance will not be made on behalf of a household unless the household makes a good-faith effort to pay its home energy bills.
- Furnace Assistance: This will be provided to households that qualify for reconnection assistance, but do not have an operating furnace or heating supply for their residence. Furnace benefits, which include tune-up, repair, or replacement will be utilized to restore a vital heat supply to the home. It will be operated by Local Administering Agencies, which are uniquely situated to define and develop individualized responses to energy-related emergencies and emergency furnace repair to restore a home heating source.
Q. Does my utility service have to be disconnected before I can apply for LIHEAP Emergency Services?
A. Emergency Assistance will be provided only after a household has actually been disconnected (unless a medical certificate is present) from its primary or secondary (heat-related) energy source.
Q. Does LIHEAP pay my bill each month?
A. Not exacty. Applicant households with rental expenses greater than 30% of income that indirectly purchase energy as an undesignated portion of rent are eligible to receive assistance in the form of a one-time cash payment made directly to the household For the traditional Direct Vendor Payment program, applicant households that purchase energy directly from vendors are eligible to receive Energy Assistance benefits in the form of a one-time payment representing a percentage of the average primary and secondary vendors in accordance with a payment schedule. Secondary electric service must be an integral part of the heating system or heat-related in order to qualify for a benefit. Under the PIPP program launched in September 2011, PIPP-eligible households who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas can directly receive a monthly State benefit to apply towards their utility bill.
Q. If I qualify for assistance, how are the payments made to my utility?
A. Payments are made directly to the utility on behalf of the applicant. In the case of applicants whose heat is included in their rent, payment is made directly to the applicant.
Q. Does LIHEAP pay for water, sewer or phone utility service?
A. No, the purpose of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is to assist low income citizens by offsetting the rising cost of home energy (principally heating) through direct financial assistance, energy counseling, outreach and education.
Q. How long does it take to receive LIHEAP assistance?
A. Once an application is complete, the local agency will notify the client of approval or denial within 30 days. All client and vendor payments are made by the local agency within 15 days after approval of the client's application. Emergency Services applications are approved within 48 hours after the application is complete. If the disconnection has caused a life-threatening situation, the application approval and vendor notification must occur within 18 hours of a completed application.
Q. I live in Public Housing. Can I get LIHEAP assistance?
A. In most cases, the answer is No. Eligibility for LIHEAP is limited to households at or below 150% of the federal poverty income level. In addition to income eligibility, applicants must document that they are responsible for their home energy costs. Applicants who have a bill and pay directly to the energy vendor must present documentation that shows the applicant to be the Customer of Record with the energy vendor. If the applicant does not have any energy bills because energy costs are included in the rent payment, the household must prove its monthly rent costs are greater than 30% of the household's income for the past 30 days.
Q. How do I apply if I'm homebound?
A. There are times when a home visit or the mail-in application procedure may be necessary to serve an applicant. A home visit by local agency staff will be made when:
- A relative or friend cannot make application on behalf of the applicant at a regular site;
- The individual has stated the need for a special accommodation because of a disabling condition; or
- All other methods for getting the individual to the site have been exhausted.