The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program/Utilities Assistance
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs. LIHEAP provides assistance in managing costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and energy-related minor home repairs. LIHEAP can help you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer through programs that reduce the risk of health problems that arise from unsafe heating and cooling practices.
Who is Eligible
In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the state of Illinois and you must need financial assistance for home energy costs. In order to qualify, you must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below the following amounts:
|Household Size*||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
A person who participates, or has family members who participate in certain other benefit programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or certain needs-tested veterans benefits may be automatically eligible.
LIHEAP is provided to assist families address the high energy costs associated with heating and cooling a residence. LIHEAP can help people stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer through programs that reduce the risk of health problems that arise from unsafe heating and cooling practices.
To Apply For
To find out eligiblity for LIHEAP benefits, contact your local LIHEAP office. Information about how to contact each office can be obtained here.
For help applying for LIHEAP benefits, a patient may also call this toll-free number:
To apply, the following documentation is required:
- Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day period beginning with the date of application;
- A copy of current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if energy directly paid for);
- A copy of rental agreement (if renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information;
- Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members;
- Proof the household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
LIHEAP is a federal program that helps low income households pay for heating and/or cooling their homes.
In particular, LIHEAP seeks to make home energy more affordable for two groups of low income households that have the highest home energy needs:
- Vulnerable households which include frail older individuals, individuals with disabilities, and very young children. These households face serious health risks if they do not have adequate heating or cooling in their homes.
- High energy burden households which include those households with the lowest incomes and highest home energy costs. These households face safety risks in trying to heat or cool their homes if they cannot pay their heating or cooling fuel bills.
Consequently, households with the highest home energy needs are more likely to face health and safety risks.
If a patient has received a grant from LIHEAP, gas and electric companies cannot disconnect your service from December 1 through March 31. (Please keep in mind that receipt of an application number is not the same as receipt of the LIHEAP grant.) During this time, the patient should continue paying whatever he/she can afford each month toward the bill. After March 31, the patient will have to enter into a formal deferred payment arrangement (DPA) with the utility company to be protected from disconnection.
Additionally, there are safeguards for persons with medical needs:
Households with existing gas or electric service can submit a Certificate of Illness (medical certificate) to the utility company. The medical certificate must be submitted within 14 days of the notice of disconnection or the actual disconnection for services in order for reinstatement. Medical certificates are good for 30-60 days; at the end of the 60 day period, the patient will need to enter into a payment arragement with the utility company.
Additionally, patients may sign up for the Life Support Registry, at which point the utility company will come and tag their meter as one connected to a life support device. The addition of the account to the Life Support Registry:
- Does not guarantee patient will receive uninterrupted electric service;
- Does not provide priority restoration of patient's electric service when an interruption occurs;
- Does not exempt the account from disconnection for non-payment.
Links to Important Resources
For more information, visit the LIHEAP Resource Guide on Indoor Health and Safety.
For a detailed listing of energy assistance programs they can apply for (page 1) and a letter to give to patients to help them understand the medical certificate of illness (page 2) click here.
For more information on consumer rights with respect to gas and electric services, see this publication from the Illinois Commerce Commission.
For Consumer Advocacy, visit the Citizen's Utility Board.