Program May Help Low-Income Seniors Stay Warm

February 3, 2014
LIHEAP may help to keep some seniors warm during winter months.

LIHEAP may help to some seniors stay warm during winter months.

For many seniors, winter means finding a way to keep warm in their homes without eating deep into their budgets. Fortunately some elder services do exist that provide a little help; among these is LIHEAP.

What is LIHEAP?

LIHEAP stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This is a federally-funded initiative that has the goal of helping people in low income situations find ways to meet their energy bills. Like other elder services, this program is focused on income rather than on age.

The LIHEAP website states that:

LIHEAP seeks to make home energy more affordable for two groups of low income households that have the highest home energy needs:

  • vulnerable households such as those that include frail older individuals, individuals with disabilities, and very young children. Individuals in these households face serious health risks if they do not have adequate heating or cooling in their homes.
  • high energy burden households such as those that include individuals 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.

Like many federal programs, LIHEAP is organized on the state level; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees the broad LIHEAP service, but each state determines how the service is administered within its borders.

What services does LIHEAP offer?

These services vary from state to state; however, the services below are typically offered through LIHEAP:

  • Fuel subsidies
  • Low-cost weatherization and home energy efficiency repairs
  • Intervention in crisis situations that affect energy delivery

How to apply

The first thing an applicant must do is find information regarding the LIHEAP office in his or her state. To do this, an individual can:

After contacting the appropriate state office, the individual will be asked to provide information, which may include some or all of the following:

  • Utility bills
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of number of people in household
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship

As with so many elder services programs, it can take a while to fill out all the appropriate forms and provide the needed information; however, for qualifying individuals, it may be well worth the effort in order to have a warmer, more affordable home this winter (and in future winters.)

LIHEAP is also intended to help people afford appropriate energy-related assistance year round, so those in warmer climates can also benefit from using LIHEAP to stay cool in the summer.

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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