Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is now accepting applications through county social services departments for the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).
The federally funded program helps low-income households with a one-time payment directly to their heating vendor to offset the high cost of warming their homes during the cold weather months. Depending on the household’s primary heating source, the payment will be $300, $400 or $500. Thousands of eligible households will receive an automated LIEAP payment.
“More of our neighbors may be facing financial hardships because of COVID-19, and this funding can help eligible households with their heating expenses this winter,” said NCDHHS Senior Director for Economic Security Carla West. “We want to ensure seniors and people with disabilities are healthy and safe during a difficult time of the year.”
Payments are distributed automatically to heating vendors of those receiving specific services or following an application process. The automated payments will begin December 1 and are designed to help eligible seniors and people with disabilities access winter heating assistance in a safe and socially distanced manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible households may qualify to receive an automated payment for the 2021-2022 LIEAP season if a member of the household:
♦ Is age 60 or older or a person with a disability receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services;
♦ Currently receives Food and Nutrition Services; and
♦ Received LIEAP during the 2020-2021 season.
These households were notified of eligibility in November and do not need to apply for this benefit.
Any household with a person age 60 or older or with a disability receiving DAAS services who did not receive notice of an automated payment is encouraged to practice social distancing and submit an online application at epass.nc.gov, apply by phone, submit a paper application for LIEAP assistance through U.S. Mail, or fax their application to their local department of social services. Applications may also be dropped off at the local DSS, and applicants may contact their local DSS for information on how to obtain a paper application.
On January 3, 2022, all other eligible households may begin applying. To be eligible for the LIEAP program, a household must:
♦ Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria;
♦ Have income equal to or less than 130% of the federal poverty limit;
♦ Have resources, such as saving and checking accounts and cash on hand, at or below $2,250 (resources will not be counted for 2021-2022 LIEAP season); and
♦ Be responsible for their heating cost;
Households can apply online through the ePASS portal at epass.nc.gov, by phone or by submitting a paper application through mail, fax or dropping it off at their local DSS, without having to go into the agency to apply. Individuals may also contact their local DSS to apply. All household applications will be accepted from January 3 until March 31, 2022 or until funds are exhausted.
Last year, the program provided approximately $59 million to help more than 168,000 households pay their heating bills from December 2020 through March 2021.
For more information on the program and eligibility, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/low-income-energy-assistance.