Low-income households can apply for help with heating bills

People in households needing heating assistance can now apply for New York’s Home Energy Assistance Program. Eligible households can receive a one-time benefit of up to $625 this winter from the program, which is federally funded.

Again this winter, anyone living outside of New York City can apply for a regular Home Energy Assistance Program benefit online at myBenefits.ny.gov. Last year, more than 35,000 households applied through the myBenefits site.

For the 2014-15 season, a household of four can earn up to $50,629 a year, or $4,219 a month, and still qualify for assistance. For a person living alone, the maximum monthly income is $2,194.  The sliding scale goes up to $6,534 for a household of 11, and $508 is added for each person after that.

The program, which is overseen by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, can assist eligible applicants regardless of whether they own their home or rent. Eligibility is determined by income and how many people live in the household.

Eligible households can receive one regular benefit per season and could also be eligible for an emergency benefit if they are in danger of running out of heating fuel or having their utility service shut off. Applications for emergency benefits will be accepted beginning Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. People in an energy emergency situation should call their local department of social services for assistance.

Anyone can apply for the program with his or her local department of social services. Last winter, more than 1.5 million households throughout New York State received Home Energy Assistance Program benefits.

For more information about the Home Energy Assistance Program, go to http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/. New Yorkers can find contact information for their county department of social services at http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/HEAP-contacts.pdf.

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