Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Helps Heat Your Home

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Helps Heat Your Home


What is HEAP?

HEAP helps low income people with heating costs.  You can only get benefits during “HEAP season”.  The dates change every year.  For 2011-2012 the HEAP season closes April 13, 2012.  If the HEAP season is closed and you have a utility shut-off or threatened shut-off, you may be eligible for Emergency Assistance.

The HEAP program has three parts:

  • Regular HEAP- available to all eligible households
  • Emergency HEAP –benefits available in addition to regular HEAP to restore heat or prevent a shut-off
  • Repair/Replacement of heating equipment which you own

Who is eligible?

  • People whose income is too high for Public Assistance or Food Stamps may still qualify for HEAP.
  • Homeowners and tenants who pay for heat,  tenants who pay for heat in their rent, and residents of subsidized housing with heat included in rent are eligible for HEAP in varying amounts.
  • Households who do not have any heating costs and do not pay for heat in their rent are not eligible for HEAP.

How do I apply for Regular HEAP?

You can apply at DSS or at authorized agencies (called certifiers) in person, by mail or by fax.

  • If you receive Public Assistance, Food Stamps or SSI as a couple or living alone, you are “categorically” (automatically) eligible and you may not need to apply.
  • If you are applying  for PA and/or FS you can apply for HEAP at the same time.
  • The person applying must be the person whose name is on the heating bill, or the primary tenant if heat is included in rent.

What proof do I need to give to DSS?

  • New applicants: If you did not receive HEAP in the prior year  you must provide proof of  residence, identity and social security numbers of household members, income, proof of vulnerability if applicable (age or disability),  and vendor relationship, and you must be interviewed in person or by telephone. You should not have to provide documents already in DSS’s file.
  • Returning applicants: If you received a regular HEAP benefit in the previous year in the same county you only have to provide documentation of earned income and possibly other new information.  You do not have to have an interview.
  • You will have 10 business days to provide the proof DSS asks for.  If you do not provide the proof in time, your application can be denied.  

DSS generally must make a decision on applications for Regular HEAP within 30 business days.     

How do I apply for Emergency Heap?

You can apply by phone if:
1.  You are a PA or FS recipient, or
2.  You have been approved for regular HEAP and you have not moved, had a change in household composition or a change in income of more than $200.

If not, you must complete an application for Emergency HEAP, provide documentation and have an interview.

When must DSS make a decision on my application for Emergency HEAP?

DSS must resolve an emergency situation for an eligible household within 18 hours if the household has no heat, or within 48 hours if loss of heat is threatened.

If a shut-off is scheduled and DSS will not be able to make a decision before the shut-off date, they can get a “10 day hold” which holds the shut-off for 10 days.

How does DSS count resources?

Resources aren’t counted for regular HEAP.  For emergency HEAP you must use any available non-exempt resources to prevent the heating emergency.  Funds you need for essential living expenses (rent/mortgage, homeowner’s insurance, water/sewer, trash removal, taxes, medical expenses, food, work-related transportation, child care, court ordered payments, the cost of one phone, and other expenses on a case by case basis) are not counted as a resource, and tax refunds are exempt.

What amount does HEAP pay?

HEAP benefits are usually paid directly to the utility or fuel company.

Regular HEAP

  • Benefits change every year.  In 2011/2012 they have been greatly reduced.                                                                                                                  
  • Subsidized housing: If you live in subsidized housing and heat is included in your rent, the benefit is $1. This allows you to receive more food stamps.
  • Heat Included Benefit: if you do not live in subsidized housing and your rent includes heat, the benefit is based on income and is $20 or $25 in 2011/2012.
  • Heater’s Benefit: if you pay directly for fuel for heat, the benefit ranges from $250 to $500 in 2011/2012 depending on the type of fuel, your income level, and whether your  household has a vulnerable member (under age 8, age 60 or older, or permanently disabled).
  • Supplemental benefit:  If you receive a heat included benefit and then move during the HEAP season to a place where you have to pay for heat, you are eligible for a supplemental benefit equal to the difference between the heat included benefit and the higher heater’s benefit.  

Emergency HEAP

  • The benefit amount depends on your type of fuel. In 2011/2012 it  ranges from $125 for heat related electric to $550 for oil, kerosene and propane

Heating Equipment Replacement/Repair

  • Up to $3000 per year for repair
  • Up to $6000 for replacement per applicant in a 10 year period

What if I do not agree with the decision DSS makes on my HEAP application?

You can request a Fair Hearing if:

  • Your application is denied or not acted upon within 30 or 40 business days for Regular Heap or 18 or 48 hours for Emergency HEAP.
  • You disagree with the amount of the benefit.
  • You disagree with way it is provided

You must request fair hearing within 60 days of date notice is mailed.  See the article on Fair Hearings.

Legal Help

If you have a HEAP problem you cannot solve with DSS, you can contact your local legal services office for possible help.  The notice from DSS will have contact information for legal assistance.  

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(c) Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.


April 2012



Additional information