To qualify for fuel assistance programs, an applicant must be a homeowner or renter whose cost of heating is included in rent and whose gross annual income does not exceed 60 percent of the state median income. Program coordinators base eligibility on the income of household members above 18 years.
Each winter, fuel assistance programs in multiple states help to warm households facing vulnerability to heating costs. All homeowners or renters whose heating costs form a substantial portion of their rent are eligible to apply to these programs. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program accepts applications from households whose combined income is 150 percent of the national poverty level or below. The program also provides fuel assistance to households whose income is 60 percent of the state median income or below, whichever comes first.
The federal government updates poverty levels and state median incomes every winter to help state programs determine eligibility. Households with individuals who receive assistance under programs such as the Supplemental Security Income, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Veteran Benefits are also eligible to fuel assistance. Some fuel assistance programs also include other eligibility criteria such as residence in non-subsidized housing, ownership of limited assets and receipt of a utility disconnection notice.