Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Overview and Eligibility
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides for a one-time payment to help eligible households pay their heating and cooling bills. The funds are distributed through local social service departments (see “How to Access” below). To be eligible, households must:
- Have at least one person in the household that meets the eligibility criteria;
- Meet an income test (see below);
- Have financial savings at or below $2,250; and,
- Be responsible for paying the home heating/cooling bill.
Eligible households may not earn total gross (pre-tax) income exceeding 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. The eligible income level varies based on the number of people in the home, and may change from year to year. Currently, a household of four can gross up to $34,056 per year ($2,838/month) and still be eligible. To determine if you are eligible and apply for funding, visit this NC Department of Health and Human Services website.
Households with a person aged 60 or older, or disabled persons receiving services through the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible to sign up for assistance each year from December 1st to 31st. From January 1st through March 31st, those and all other households may apply.
How to Access the Assistance Funds
LIHEAP funds are available through your local Dept. of Social Services. To find out who your local agency contact is, either call 2-1-1 and speak to an agent who can guide you through the process, find contact information through an online web search, or visit this Department of Health and Human Services page and click on your county or on the link to the full directory.
Once you are in touch with the appropriate assistance agent, you will then need to go through the application process before receiving assistance for your utility bill, which is then paid directly to your electric or water utility. Again, in North Carolina this is offered only once per year.
Current Availability of LIHEAP Funds
While social services departments can receive applications for LIHEAP on an ongoing basis, the funds are only available until they have been used up. North Carolina received approximately $96.3 million in LIHEAP funding for the current funding cycle, of which $1.8 million is reserved for First Nation (“Tribal”) communities. However, due in large part to the economic and public health crisis, as of January 12, 2021, many local agencies had already run out of funds. If you are in need of assistance, please contact your local social services department immediately to apply. If funds are no longer available, submit an application anyway so that you are in the system in case new funding becomes available.