LIHEAP / ECAP: Eligibility – Household Composition & Other Factors

The LIHEAP “household” is any individual or group of individuals:

  1. who are living together as one economic unit for whom residential energy is customarily purchased in common or
  2. who make undesignated payments for energy in the form of rent.

One roof, one chimney rule

The LIHEAP household may differ from the household in other DHS programs. For example, a child just visiting a relative may not be considered as a LIHEAP household member, and an elderly parent temporarily staying with his or her child after a medical procedure or hospital stay may be in a separate SNAP household but in the same LIHEAP household.

A roomer person is a person who is renting a room from the LIHEAP household and a boarder is a person who pays the LIHEAP household for lodging and food. When the LIHEAP household states there is a roomer or boarder living with the household, the person may be considered as a separate household only when:

  • the person is not related to the household; and
  • there is a written lease or roommate agreement that contains a specific clause stating the roomer or boarder is responsible for a portion of utility bills.

When there is more than one “roof” at the same property and everyone shares a meter, they must all be included in one LIHEAP application as a single household. This may occur when some of the household members live in a recreational vehicle or garage apartment.

The income and resources of all household members is considered in determining LIHEAP eligibility. This is true even when one or more members is not eligible to be included in the benefit because he or she is an undocumented or ineligible alien or did not furnish a Social Security number.

Tribal Members in the Household

Oklahoma’s Native America tribes may operate their own LIHEAP program. When a tribe operates its own program, tribal members have the option of receiving LIHEAP assistance from their tribe. The Appendix D-4-B lists the tribes that are currently administering their own program.

Each fiscal year, tribal members must choose to receive LIHEAP from DHS or the tribe. Remember the federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.

When a tribal member applies for DHS LIHEAP, LIHEAP staff determines if the member is participating in a tribal LIHEAP program.

  • If a tribal member has received energy assistance from a tribal LIHEAP program in the current fiscal year, LIHEAP staff denies the application.
  • If a tribal member belongs to a tribe that does not operate its own LIHEAP program or has not received energy assistance from a tribal LIHEAP program, the member may participate in the DHS program. LIHEAP staff will determine if he or she meets program requirements.

Eligibility Criteria 

To qualify for LIHEAP, a household must

  • verify the applicant’s identity,
  • provide a Social Security number (SSN) or proof of a pending SSN application for each household member,
  • include at least one citizen or eligible alien,
  • be totally or partially responsible for the cost of home energy, and
  • not exceed the gross income and resource standards.

Applicant’s Identity

LIHEAP staff verifies the identity of the person who applies for LIHEAP.

Acceptable Verification  

The household may provide anything that “reasonably” proves the identity of the applicant. LIHEAP staff may consult what DHS already has in imaging, what the household submits, or collateral contacts when other verification is not available.

Acceptable forms of verification include but are not limited to

  • a driver’s license,
  • a work or school id,
  • an id from a health insurance or an assistance or social service program,
  • a voter registration card,
  • a pay stub,
  • a birth certificate, or
  • a Social Security card. 

Social Security number 

DHS needs the Social Security number (SSN) for each household member. When a person does not have a number due to a pending application, the household provides verification of the pending application.

Failing to meet the SSN requirement 

When a household member does not provide a SSN, LIHEAP staff does not include the member in the household size when determining income eligibility and the payment amount. Even though the excluded person does not count toward the household’s size, the person’s income and resource will still count towards the household’s eligibility.

Citizenship or Alien status

Households must include at least one citizen or eligible alien. The applicant must declare the citizenship or alien status of each person in the household applying for LIHEAP.

To be eligible for LIHEAP, an individual must be

  1. a US citizen,
  2. a US national,
  3. a qualified or eligible alien, or
  4. an alien who does not have to meet qualified alien status.

When a household member does not meet these requirements, LIHEAP staff does not count this person in the household size but does include his or her income and resources.

Vulnerability

A household must be “vulnerable” to receive energy assistance. A household is vulnerable when it is at least partially responsible for the cost of home energy. It remains vulnerable when the provider temporarily disconnects the household’s service.

Verification

A household may provide

  • a current utility bill,
  • a receipt for delivered fuel,
  • an itemized statement, lease, or rent receipt that shows how the landlord includes energy surcharge in the rent, or
  • verification from an organization that or a person who provides a subsidy that it does not entirely cover utility costs.

Roomer/Boarder

For a roomer or boarder to be considered partially vulnerable, he or she:

  • cannot be related to the household with whom he or she lives; and
  • must provide a written lease or roommate agreement that contains a specific clause stating the roomer or boarder is responsible for a portion of utility bills.

Subsidized Households

A subsidized household receives help paying for its utilities on a regular basis. The help may come from a government agency or a private person.

When LIHEAP staff verifies that there is an unpaid portion of the energy costs, a subsidized household may receive energy assistance. The amount approved is the same amount as an unsubsidized household.

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