If you need to consult with an attorney, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.
The Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income people pay their heating bills through energy assistance grants and emergency repair assistance. There are two types of assistance: Cash and Crisis grants. You may be eligible to apply for one or both of them. Generally, applications for LIHEAP can be made each winter between about November 1st and the end of March – early April depending on funding availability.
Both homeowners and renters who are responsible for their heating bills and have a low or fixed income are eligible. You do not need to have an unpaid bill to receive energy assistance. You can receive this money without being on welfare. Clients living in subsidized housing are eligible for the Cash grant only if they pay part for or all of their primary heating source directly to a vendor.
There is no property resource limit and no lien will be placed on your property if you qualify for energy assistance. Income eligibility levels may change from year to year, depending upon the amount of the funds available. To see if you may qualify and to file an application online go to http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/heatingassistanceliheap/index.htm.
You may also file an application for LIHEAP at the Erie County Assistance office located at 1316 Holland Street, phone 814-461-2000. There are two types of LIHEAP assistance: Cash, and Crisis. Depending upon your needs, you may apply for one, or both at your time of application.
Some of the information you will need when applying includes:
A written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of the Cash grant that will be credited to your account should be sent 30 days after your completed Cash grant application is received. The county assistance office requests 45 days to process all cash grant applications. If your application is judged to be incomplete, the department must tell you, within 10 days, what is missing and provide you an additional 15 days to complete it. An application for a Crisis Grant must be acted upon within 48 hours. However, if a life-threatening emergency exists, the department must act within 18 hours.
If you are eligible, a payment will be sent directly to the utility/fuel dealer you designate and the payment will be credited on your bill. In some cases, a check may be mailed directly to you. The amount of your energy assistance grant depends on the size of your household, your income and your type of fuel. Although grant amounts may change from year to year, typically the minimum Cash grant you receive is $100. Many grants are substantially higher. The amount of the maximum Crisis Grant also changes from year to year.
If you are denied benefits you can request a Fair Hearing through the local welfare department. Instructions to do so are contained in the denial notice. You have 30 days to file an appeal.