LIHEAP / ECAP: Eligibility – Income & Resources

Income

The household’s income must not exceed the applicable gross income limit on the Appendix C-7 to receive energy assistance. DHS uses the net income amount, the amount after applicable deductions, to determine the amount the household receives for the summer cooling and winter heating programs. Energy crisis programs do not use the net income to determine eligibility.

Income Calculation

To calculate the gross income amount, LIHEAP staff determines what income the household receives and whether it is countable. They request verification when it is necessary and convert the income to a gross monthly amount. The gross amount of income is used to determine eligibility even when the income is reduced due to recoupment of an overpayment or garnishment. Except for excluded income and the self-employed business expense, LIHEAP staff uses all other income the household receives to determine income eligibility.

LIHEAP staff calculates the household’s net income amount by subtracting the remaining deductions that the household qualifies to receive. These deductions do not include the self-employment business expense since staff already subtracted it to calculate gross income. Staff enters the gross and net income amount into the system.

Benefit Amount

The system awards energy assistance based on the Appendix C-7-A. For summer cooling and winter heating, the net income helps determine the benefit amount. The energy crisis programs pays the amount needed to end the energy crisis up to the maximum benefit amount.

Income Types

DHS divides the household’s gross income into earned and unearned income. Earned income is income that results from a person’s labor and may include wages, commission, self-employment, or training allowances. Unearned income, on the other hand, does not require a person’s active labor. 
The following income does not count toward a household’s LIHEAP eligibility.

Income Exclusions
Type of Income LIHEAP Handling
ABLE Accounts Exempt unless

  1. a donor contributes more than federal gift tax exclusion or
  2. the money withdrawn goes to pay for an unqualified expense.
Agent Orange Settlements Exempt for programs derived from Title III and Title V of the Older Americans Act.

Examples:

  • Experience Works,
  • National Council on Aging,
  • National Council of Senior Citizens,
  • American Association of Retired Persons,
  • US Forest Service,
  • National Association for Spanish Speaking Elderly,
  • National Urban League,
  • National Council on Black Aging, and

National Council on Indian Aging.

Developmental Disabilities Services Payments Exempt
Disaster Assistance Exempt
Earned Income Tax Credit Exempt for both state and federal returns
Earnings of a Minor Exempt unless not attending school or dependent.
Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children Exempt
Experimental Housing Assistance Exempt
Federal Workforce Training Programs Exempt federally-funding workforce training program income unless a person 19 years of age or older performs on-the-job-training. This is countable, earned income.

The exemption includes payments from Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and any other federally-funded workforce training programs.

Examples:

  • Youthbuild,
  • Summer Youth,
  • Job Corps, and

Paid classroom training.

Funds for the children of Vietnam Veterans Exempt
Government rent and housing subsidies Exempt
In-kind income Exempt
Loans Exempt when “bona fide.”

 

The household must show

  • evidence of the duty to repay or that the loan is from a person or financial assistance in the loan business or,

when the lender is not in the loan business, the borrower statement that he or she must repay the loan.

National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 programs Exempt programs from Title I.

Examples:

  • University Year for Action,
  • Senior Companion Program,
  • AmeriCorps, and

Volunteers in Service to America

Native American Income Exempt payments from the following sources:

Per capita payments from judgement awards or trust funds made pursuant to Public Law 98-64. LIHEAP staff contacts the tribe when there are questions. The exclusion is per person rather than per family.

This includes

  • any interest or investment accrued on the funds held in trust or
  • any purchases made with judgement funds, trust funds, interest, or investments income accrued on the funds.

It does not apply to interest or income derived from purchases made after distribution.

Examples: Osage tribe headrights, mineral lease income, or other tribal business ventures.

The interests of individual Native Americans in trust or restricted lands. The income received by individual Indians derived from leases or other uses of individually-owned trust or restricted lands unless more than $2,000. The excess is countable, unearned income. Any payments made due to the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act to an Alaskan native.

Nazi Victim Funds Exempt
Radiation Exposure Trust Fund programs Exempt
Reimbursements Exempt as long as the reimbursement does not exceed the amount of the expense.
School and child care food assistance Exempt
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Active Corps of Executives (ACE) Exempt

The exemption applies to

  • foster grandparents,
  • senior health aides,
  • senior companions, and

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Active Corps of Executives (ACE) volunteers.

SNAP benefits Exempt
Student Aid Exempt

Examples:

  • educational loans with deferred payments,
  • fellowships,
  • grants,
  • scholarships,
  • veteran education benefits, and

work study.

Student Trust Funds Exempt when there is a written petition from the student’s trust fund for school expense.
Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act Exempt any payment from Title II.
Vendor Payments Exempt

Required Verification

LIHEAP staff must verify the household’s gross monthly earned and unearned income. New verification is not necessary for persons in household actively receiving ABD medical, SNAP, SSP, or TANF benefits. They use the verification from the open benefit. The income must have already been verified in the open case. If the income is new or terminated since the last case action, it must be verified.

Verification Scenarios
Scenario Outcome
Every member in the LIHEAP household receives one of these benefits. Staff uses the most recent income verification on file to determine eligibility.
Some members but not the entire LIHEAP household also receives a DHS benefit. Staff uses the most recent income verification for those receiving a DHS benefit. The other persons in the LIHEAP household must provide verification of their income for the application month.
No one in the LIHEAP household receives one of these benefits. The household must verify the income of all household members for the month of application.

Income Verification Rules

LIHEAP household members who are not in an AFS approved benefit must provide income verification.

When LIHEAP staff needs verification, the household must provide one of the following:

  • Actual income verification received in the application month when all monthly payments are available and representative.
    • It is not representative when a household member receives an extra paycheck due to a third bi-weekly or a fifth weekly payment. In this case, LIHEAP staff uses the last 30 calendar days of income to determine income eligibility.
    • It is not available when the household has not received this payment before the application date. When the household member has not received a payment from this source before the application date or does not know when or if it will be received again, no income is counted from this source.
  • The income amount received in the previous month when the amount received does not fluctuate from month-to-month.
  • The last 30 days of gross pay a wage-earning household member receives before the application date. The member’s earnings must fluctuate from month-to-month, and he or she cannot have received all of that month’s checks before the application date.
  • The most recent tax return or business records from the past 12 months when a household member performs contract labor or self-employment.
  • The amount of unearned income a household member received or expects to receive in the application month.

LIHEAP staff converts income verification that covers more than one month to a monthly amount.

Income deductions

LIHEAP staff must subtract the following deductions from the household’s gross income:

  • Child Care Subsidy copayment,
  • legally-binding child support payments,
  • earned income deduction for household member who is working (currently, $240 per working person),
  • self-employed business expense deduction (50% of the household’s gross self-employment income), and
  • unreimbursed medical expenses for household members 60 years of age or older or with a disability.

The household has to meet the gross income standard prior to receiving any income deductions.

Income Calculation for a household that includes an ineligible alien

LIHEAP staff uses this income process when there is an ineligible alien in the household. This process calculates how much of the ineligible alien’s income counts for the rest of the household.

  1. Use the gross earned income of every ineligible alien in the household.
  2. Subtract the earned income deduction from the gross earned income for each ineligible alien in the household.
  3. Add the unearned of all ineligible aliens.
  4. Calculate the number of ineligible dependents there are. This number equals those persons who are claimable for federal personal income tax purpose, live in the same household, and are not eligible household members.
  5. Subtract the need standard for the ineligible alien and his or her ineligible alien dependents. The need standard is on the Appendix C-1, Schedule IX.
  6. Subtract all applicable deductions.
  7. Add the remaining income to the countable income of the household members eligible for LIHEAP.

Resources

To qualify, the household’s liquid resources cannot exceed the resource limit on the Appendix C-7.

Liquid resources include

  • cash on hand,
  • the amount in a checking or savings account,
  • the value of a certificate of deposit,
  • stocks, or
  • bonds.

LIHEAP staff will use the resource figures available from an active ABD medical, SNAP, SSP, or TANF benefit. When a person’s resource information  was not included in one of these active benefits, LIHEAP staff accepts the applicant’s statement unless it is questionable.

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