Q1. Does my utility bill have to be listed in my name?
A. Applicants must document that they are responsible for their home energy costs. Applicants who have a bill and pay directly to the energy vendor must present documentation that shows the applicant to be the Customer of Record with the energy vendor.
Q2. I don't have a utility bill because my heat and electric services are included in my rent. Can I still apply for LIHEAP?
A. If you do not have any energy bills because energy costs are included in your rent payment, you must prove your monthly rent costs are greater than 30% of the household's income for the past 30 days.
Q3. What kind of LIHEAP assistance is available?
A. According to funding availability and client's utility area, local agencies may offer up to three types of LIHEAP assistance:
- LIHEAP Direct Vendor Payment (DVP): These one-time payments will apply to all income eligible households. Applicants must prove they are low income and responsible for their home heating costs, or if the applicant is a renter and has no utility bills, then the amount of the applicant’s rent must exceed 30% of the household’s income.
- LIHEAP PIPP: LIHEAP clients who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas may choose the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). Under PIPP, clients pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit toward their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date.
- Crisis Assistance: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sets aside a portion of the State’s allocation for use in heating-related crisis situations. Under this component, funds may be used for either weather or supply emergencies that affect individual households to the extent funds are available. Crisis assistance will be provided within 48 hours from the date the customer application is complete (all customer documentation has been submitted). If the temperature at the time the application is complete is below 32°F, assistance will be provided within 18 hours. The two types of crisis assistance offered in Illinois are Reconnection Assistance and Furnace Assistance.
- Reconnection Assistance (RA): Based on Priority Periods and funding availability, RA may be available to you if your household is disconnected, has a disconnection notice (within the next 7 days) from an energy source needed for heating, or has a delivered fuel supplier that has refused to deliver to you (and your tank is at 25% or below). Reconnection Assistance may be used for eligible households that are trying to establish new service in the name of an adult household member. However, RA is only provided to households if a) it will ensure reconnection and b) if the household has made a good faith effort to maintain energy services and/or can pay a portion of the reconnection assistance balance due to the energy vendor, when applicable.
- Furnace Assistance (October 1, 2019 - March 31, 2020): Based on funding availability, Furnace Assistance may be provided to households that have received a LIHEAP (or PIPP) benefit but do not have an operating furnace or heating supply for their residence. Furnace Assistance is for qualifying homeowners and is designed to provide safe, efficient restoration of heat. All applications for benefits noted in this response to Q3, including Furnace Assistance, are submitted through the Local Administering Agencies based on county of residence. See LAA Map/county list for further details.
Q4. Does LIHEAP pay my bill each month?
A. Not exactly. Applicant households with rental expenses greater than 30% of income that indirectly purchase energy as an undesignated portion of rent are eligible to receive assistance in the form of a one-time cash payment made directly to the household For the traditional Direct Vendor Payment program, applicant households that purchase energy directly from vendors are eligible to receive Energy Assistance benefits in the form of a one-time payment representing a percentage of the average primary and secondary vendors in accordance with a payment schedule. Secondary electric service must be an integral part of the heating system or heat-related in order to qualify for a benefit. Under the PIPP program, PIPP-eligible households who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas can directly receive a monthly State benefit to apply towards their utility bill.
Q5. If I qualify for assistance, how are the payments made to my utility?
A. Payments are made directly to the utility on behalf of the applicant. In the case of applicants whose heat is included in their rent, payment is made directly to the applicant.
Q6. Does LIHEAP pay for water, sewer or phone utility service?
A. No, the purpose of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is to assist low income citizens by offsetting the rising cost of home energy (principally heating) through direct financial assistance, energy counseling, outreach and education.
Q7. How long does it take to receive LIHEAP assistance?
A. Once an application is complete, the local agency will notify the client of approval or denial within 30 days. All client and vendor payments are made by the local agency within 45 days after approval of the client's application. Emergency Services applications are approved within 48 hours after the application is complete. If the disconnection has caused a life-threatening situation, the application approval and vendor notification must occur within 18 hours of a completed application.
Q8. I live in Public Housing. Can I get LIHEAP assistance?
A. In most cases, the answer is No. Eligibility for LIHEAP is limited to households at or below 150% of the federal poverty income level. In addition to income eligibility, applicants must document that they are responsible for their home energy costs. Applicants who have a bill and pay directly to the energy vendor must present documentation that shows the applicant to be the Customer of Record with the energy vendor. If the applicant does not have any energy bills because energy costs are included in the rent payment, the household must prove its monthly rent costs are greater than 30% of the household's income for the past 30 days.
Q9. How do I apply if I'm homebound?
A. There are times when a home visit or the mail-in application procedure may be necessary to serve an applicant. A home visit by local agency staff will be made when:
- A relative or friend cannot make application on behalf of the applicant at a regular site;
- The individual has stated the need for a special accommodation because of a disabling condition; or
- All other methods for getting the individual to the site have been exhausted.
Q10. Is there a summer cooling assistance available?
A. We do not anticipate administering a Summer Cooling Program at this time. Go to
www.keepcool.illinois.gov for information about cooling centers and how to stay cool and safe this summer. You can also call the LIHEAP Hotline at 877-411-9276.