Thursday, October 15, 2009

LIHEAP to Open Earlier Than Expected

As we mentioned earlier in the year, Pennsylvania announced that the LIHEAP program, which provides funding for heating to low-income families, would be drastically shortened for the 2009-2010 season. However, an influx of federal funding has allowed the state to open the program one month earlier, on November 2. The program will be open from November 2 to March 15, 2010, while crisis assistance will be available from January 4 to March 15. Families who earn below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (for instance, $33,075 for a family of four) are eligible. Benefits amounts vary - a table is available from the Department of Public Welfare.

The Department of Public Welfare notes on their website that they may "extend or shorten the program depending upon the availability of federal funds." In other words, if you know you will need assistance, or if you have clients who will need assistance, it is best to apply as early as possible. This holds especially true for clients who are recently unemployed or working at reduced wages who may not be aware of the LIHEAP program.

More information can be found at the Department of Public Welfare's LIHEAP site. Their recommendation for the fastest way to apply is through the COMPASS website. For more information, you can contact your local county assistance office or the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Mondays through Fridays. Individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886.

What are your thoughts on the LIHEAP program? Have you used it before? Let us know in the comments!

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