Illinois is known for it’s brutal winters which include an abundance of snow, wind and ice. With the harsh weather it’s important that your utilities stay on and surviving would be difficult in Illinois without them. In many cases families are having difficulties paying for their electric and gas bills and over time the accumulation of overdue bills cause stress and your services to be shut off. With the stagnant economy and change of lifestyles many families are looking for help in every direction in order to make ends meet. Fortunately there are programs available to those who are in the low income bracket.
One program available to families in Illinois is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; better known as LIHEAP. LIHEAP is part of the United States federal social services program (welfare) that was created in 1981. The program assists low income families who have children under the age of five in the household.
How to Apply
Contact your human resource department, Department of Community services or the National Energy Assistance Referal program (NEAR). If there is not an office in your city the human resources officer will provide you with the appropriate contacts. Newcomers to the program will have to create a file with a case worker. The file will include all of the people in your family so be ready with social security numbers, household income, utility bills and personal contact information. Your case manager will also set up an interview at the appropriate office. During this interview the you’ll learn if you are eligible for the program.
Before attending the interview be sure to carry all of the necessary documents with you. You will need to bring the social security card of each family member living in the household, pay stubs that are within the last thirty days and utility statements. The human resources officer will also need a copy of your lease or proof of residency so don’t forget to bring that along with you.
What to Expect
Be prepared when arriving at your LIHEAP interview. Don’t be late and try your best not to miss the appointment. It can take weeks to get another chance for an interview so take all the precautions beforehand to arrive on the chosen day and time. If you are approved for LIHEAP it will help aid your current situation with utilities, as well as, past and future bills by issueing you a credit on your account. The amount of time you’ll be on the program will depend on each individual case and can take up to 60 days before it takes effect.