There are a number of government programs in place around the country designed to help low-income old age pensioners (OAPs) with their heating costs. Unfortunately, awareness of these initiatives among older people is not always what it could be. High heating costs tend to hit poorer OAPs hard as they spend a greater relative percentage of their income on heating their home than wealthier consumers. Heating assistance programs are run at state level, but it's a straightforward process to find out what you, or your elderly relatives, might be entitled to.
Navigate to the "Benefit Finder" utility on the Benefits.gov website (see Resources).
Fill in the "Core questions" section and click on "Next." A list of the benefits you might be entitled to will appear in the column on the right of your screen. If you want a more accurate picture of the benefits you may be entitled to, complete the rest of the questionnaire in full.
Click on "Energy assistance" if it appears in the list of benefits you may be able to claim. You'll be presented with a list of energy assistance programs in your area.
Click on each program for a description of how it works and how to apply. You will be redirected to the website of the managing organisation that runs the program in your area.
Navigate to the "LIHEAP state agencies" locator on the Administration for Children and Families website. The LIHEAP program provides financial assistance to low-income households to help them pay their home energy bills. The LIHEAP application period usually opens around the start of November but this varies from state to state. You can find out when you can apply by contacting your local LIHEAP office.
Click on your state on the map to find the contact details of your local LIHEAP office (see the Resources).
Contact your local LIHEAP office for details of how to apply for assistance. Although the application process and eligibility criteria vary from state to state, to apply you will need to provide recent copies of your utility bills, evidence of your current gross income, a Final Utility Termination Notice if you've received a shut-off notice and evidence showing the number of people living in your household.
Contact your utility provider if you are having problems paying your energy bills or heating your home. Some energy companies run programs for senior citizens and other vulnerable customers that could save you money. You can also call your state's Department of Social Security to inquire about heating assistance programs in your area.
Tips and warnings
- Contact your utility provider if you are having problems paying your energy bills or heating your home. Some energy companies run programs for senior citizens and other vulnerable customers that could save you money.
- You can also call your state's Department of Social Security to inquire about heating assistance programs in your area.
- Michigan Department of Treasury: Home Heating Credit and Shared Housing Situations
- Public Utilities Commission Ohio: Energy Assistance Programs 2010-2011
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Help With Your Utility Bills: Missouri
- Administration for Children and Families: LIHEAP Brochure