In a typical summer, more than 58,800 Oklahoma families are eligible for government-funded assistance with their air conditioning bills.
This year there is more money available than normal, which means more Oklahomans could benefit. Oklahoman has compiled key information to help you determine if you might qualify and, if you do, how you can get help.
Nearly $24 million in cooling system assistance payments are available to Oklahoma through LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
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LIHEAP provides eligible Oklahomans with energy payment assistance during the summer and winter months when utility bills are highest. LIHEAP also provides people with eligible medical conditions with financial assistance throughout the year when their utilities are about to be or have been disconnected.
Can I benefit from LIHEAP assistance?
The target populations that DHS seeks to help with its LIHEAP program are Oklahoma’s elderly and disabled people on fixed incomes and households that have children 5 years of age or younger.
But anyone who meets the income restrictions can apply.
This summer, an eligible family of four could get up to $425 to help with those costs.
However, if you do not comply with these income restrictions, your utility provider could still help you through the various programs it offers.
Once a customer is approved to receive assistance, the agency makes a one-time payment on their behalf directly to the utility providing the service, where it is applied to what the customer would be charged during the summer cooling season, said Matthew. Conley, who administers the program for the Oklahoma Department of Social Services.
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How to apply for LIHEAP benefits
Families can apply for LIHEAP Cooling Assistance online at www.okdhslive.org (starting June 28 – application for the Winter Assistance Program typically begins at the start of each calendar year).
For those who cannot apply online, Conley encourages them to apply by calling DHS at 405-522-5050.
An application period usually only lasts a few weeks until available funds are exhausted. But state officials said that summer cooling enforcement period could be extended by a few weeks as more dollars become available.
What will you need to apply for LIHEAP
When applying for LIHEAP, you will need to be prepared to provide information on all individuals residing under the same roof at the same service address.
Other items you might need include:
- A utility account number and your utility provider information.
- A copy of your birth certificate, driver’s license, paycheck, voter ID, school records, or US passport.
- Pay stubs for the last 30 days showing your name or social security number, pay dates, and income before deductions, or a statement from your employer, or (for self-employed) a copy of your tax return from the most recent year come back.
- If you have other income, you may need to show the agency a copy of a current benefit check or award letter, copies of child support or alimony checks or a court order indicating the amount of benefits.
- If you are permanently disabled or over the age of 60, you may be eligible for additional assistance if you provide itemized receipts showing your medical expenses.
- If you are an immigrant, you will be asked for a document that shows your legal immigration status.
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Other energy assistance programs are available for those who qualify
Beyond DHS summer cooling and winter heating assistance offered by LIHEAP, it also provides residents with federal funding for an Energy Crisis Assistance Program where an applicant can apply for assistance. help within 72 hours of being notified by a utility that their service is about to end. or otherwise reduced due to non-payment of bills issues.
Life-threatening energy assistance is available throughout the year (depending on available funds) for eligible households who have had their energy cut off or threatened with a cut off when they have someone living there and who has a medical condition requiring either primary heating or cooling energy sources for lifelong dependency.
A recipient recently wrote a thank you letter to DHS for receiving financial assistance through these programs.
“Without your help, my electricity would still be out,” the recipient wrote. “I work from home and am insulin dependent, with insulin that needs to be refrigerated. So not only did you save my job, you saved my life.”
Business writer Jack Money covers Oklahoma’s energy and agricultural beats for the newspaper and Oklahoman.com. Contact him at [email protected]. Please support his work and that of other Oklahomas journalists by subscribing to The Oklahoman.