Energy Assistance - Winter Heating
Does energy assistance pay my bill each month?
Answer: No, the energy program is designed to help with your winter heating costs. CEAP is not intended to pay the entire cost of home heating. If you are applying for CEAP assistance, you should continue to pay on your heating bill. If your household is determined eligible, payments are made directly to the utility company or the fuel vendor on behalf of the applicant.
Does my heating bill have to be listed in my name?
Answer: Applicants must document that they are responsible for their home energy costs by providing a current bill or a copy of a bill. In order to be eligible for payment, bills must be in the name of the applicant or a household member who is of majority status, or an emancipated minor. The bill must be for residential services at the address listed on the application, and must be for charges incurred after November 14th.
How do I apply if I am homebound?
Answer: There are times when a home visit or a mail-in application procedure may be necessary to serve an applicant, such as; if the individual has a need for a special accommodation because of a disabling condition, etc. Inform the worker of your needs when you call to schedule an appointment.
How do I know if I qualify for CEAP
Eligibility for Energy Assistance is based on the annual gross income and the size of the household. Eligibility
There is also a liquid assets test. Liquid assets include: checking, savings, CD's, stocks/shares, bonds, annuities, certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts. Individual Retirement Accounts are considered to be liquid assets if the accounts are in the name of a household member who is 59-and-one-half years old or more. The purpose of the liquid assets test is to try to ensure that winter heating assistance dollars go to households most in need; that is, to people without the financial means to heat their home.
For homeowners, the first $15,000 in liquid assets, and for other households, the first $12,000 in liquid assets, is disregarded. Any amount over that limit, when added to the annual gross income must be below the income guidelines.
Clients must provide proof of income and assets for all household members who may reside with them, for the four weeks prior to the application date. If natural gas or electricity is the heating source, the client must provide a copy of that bill which must be in the applicant's name or a household member who is of majority status, or an emancipated minor. Applicants must also submit a current copy of their electric bill to assist with determining the household’s energy burden.
To understand this, let's look at an example. Say you're a 60-year-old homeowner with a spouse (family of two) with $18,000 in liquid assets ($3,000 over the limit for homeowners). Say your income is $19,881. You would be eligible for winter heating assistance. This is because the amount of your liquid assets that's over the homeowner limit ($3,000)--plus your annual income ($19,881)--represents a combined total that's less than the income-eligibility limit for your particular situation (the limit would be $45,920 for household of two with a person at least age 60).You don't have to worry about figuring all of this out. The above information is intended to give you as much indication up-front on how you may qualify. The best approach is to call 2-1-1 United Way for referral to an application site near you. After you complete the application, an eligibility specialist will determine whether your household is eligible to receive winter heating benefits.
I don't have a heating bill because my heat is included in my rent. May I still apply for energy assistance?
Answer: Even if you do not have any energy bills because heating costs are included in your rent payment, you may be eligible to receive assistance in the form of a one-time payment made directly to the household. Since you must prove your monthly rent costs are greater than 30% of the household’s gross income, you will need to submit a copy of a rent receipt and a copy of a rental agreement along with your completed application.
What do I need to bring with me to the appointment once the program starts?
You would need to provide proof of gross income and assets from all sources for every household member for the four weeks prior to the application date.
If you heat with natural gas or electricity, you must provide a current utility bill (or copy) in your name or in the name of a household member who is of majority status, or an emancipated minor. If your heat is included with your rent, you must provide proof of how much you actually pay for rent (what your portion of the total rent is).
Income verification may include the following:
WAGE EARNERS: copies of your four most recent consecutive weekly pay stubs or a statement from your employer on company letterhead signed by either the employer or the payroll department stating your gross wages for the last four weeks.
SELF-EMPLOYMENT: your federal income tax return with all attachments and/or your self-employment business records, books, a Self-Employment Worksheet.
FIXED INCOME: income verification may include one or more of the following types:
- Social Security Benefits or Supplemental Security Income - copy of recent check, Social Security Award Letter, bank statement showing direct deposit
- State Assistance Financial Benefits (TFA, State Supplement, etc.) - a current budget sheet showing the monthly benefit amount awarded, etc.
- Veterans' Assistance- V.A. Award Letters, copy of current check, evidence of bank direct deposit
- Unemployment Compensation Benefits or Workers Compensation Benefits - current benefits printout, copies of checks, Award Letters
- Subsidized Adoption Benefits - copy of current checks, award letters, etc.
- Pensions or Annuities - copies of checks, bank direct deposit, statement from income source on their letterhead
- Any alimony or child support, including support paid to you via Child Support Enforcement, Divorce decree or Family Relations Court, or directly to you via the absent parent’s employer, or by the absent parent himself/herself for each dependent child- copies of checks, bank direct deposits, support check printouts or letters from Support Enforcement, lawyers, voluntary agreement statement from absent parent, etc.
- Rental Income - rent stub(s), tenants’ lease, copies of checks deposited in your bank acct.
- Contributions - Signed statements from friends or relatives who are contributing to your household’s support
ASSET VERIFICATION: this may include statement(s) from every institution where you or any other household member(s) have an account. Liquid asset accounts include checking, savings, CD's, stocks, bonds, shares, certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts if the accounts are in the name of a household member who is at least 59-and-one-half years old. All household members must provide documentation of all liquid assets with exception to applicants who are recipients of SSI or DSS programs that have an asset limit below the CEAP asset limit; they are not required to complete an assets test.
What happens if I give false information?
Answer: Your signature means that you have read the application, understand it and swear that all statements made on the form are true, correct, and complete to the best of your knowledge. If you give false information on any of your forms and know it is false, we can charge you with fraud. If you misrepresent your circumstances when applying for energy assistance, you are subject to prosecution and/or replacement of any benefits provided. You are also prohibited from participation in the energy program for the remainder of the current program year and for two program years following the year in which the misrepresentation occurred. When you sign your application, you give the agency the right to request any information, including information about wages that may be required to determine your household’s eligibility.
When and where may I apply?
Answer: Delivery of heating fuel begins November 14, 2019, however local Community Action Agencies began taking applications August 1, 2019 so that households could be pre-approved before winter. You may call 2-1-1 United Way to inquire about the intake site nearest to your residence. To locate the Community Action Agency in the town where you live, follow this link. Applicants must apply in person.