Increased eligibility limits for energy and weatherization assistance

by Pat Hafermann

With winter rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for the 2009-10 heating season. Luckily for Wisconsin residents, recent changes enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature have dramatically increased the eligibility limits for the Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Last year the eligibility requirements for these two programs required that a household of one have no more income than $1,300 per month and no more than $1,750 for a household of two.

Now the eligibility requirements are $1,953 for a household of one and $2,554 for a household of two. That’s an increase of $653 to the monthly income limit for a single person and $804 for a couple!

Just to remind you of the type of assistance you can get through WHEAP and Weatherization, these programs provide three general types of assistance:

• Home energy payment assistance (help paying your heating and electricity bills);

• Energy crisis assistance (help paying your heat or other appropriate intervention in an emergency); and

• Residential weatherization and other energy-related home repair (help fixing or replacing your furnace and other measures to make your residence more energy efficient).

Home Energy Payment Assistance: Home energy payment assistance helps you pay your heating and electricity bills. Depending on how you pay for your energy, the program will either pay your energy provider directly or provide you with funds to pay your provider. This is a one-time payment to assist with a portion of your energy cost.

Crisis Assistance: In addition to funds available under the home energy payment assistance program, there are also crisis assistance funds available for emergency situations. Examples of emergency situations are running out of propane and not having any money available to refill the tank or receiving a notice that your heat will be turned off due to past bills you have been unable to pay.

If you see yourself heading for a situation where you might not have heat, do not wait until you have no heat to address the problem! Contact your local benefit specialist or WHEAP designated agency as soon as the impending loss of heat is apparent to you.

Weatherization Assistance: In addition to assistance with energy costs and emergency situations, there are also funds available to weatherize your home. Weatherization means modifications to your home or apartment, which makes it more energy efficient.

Is your furnace in need of repair or replacement? Does your hot water heater need to be fixed or replaced? All of these are available modifications under the weatherization program.

And remember, the more energy efficient your residence is, the more money you stand to save on your monthly heating bills. Due to demand, there may be a waiting list for this program.

If you applied for WHEAP and/or Weatherization in the past and were turned down because your household income was too high, now is a great time to re-check your eligibility.

Or if you have never before applied for WHEAP or Weatherization but you had a tough time meeting your energy bills last winter or expect to have trouble meeting them this winter, now (before the snow starts to really fall!) is the perfect time to look into your eligibility with your friendly neighborhood benefit specialist or your local WHEAP designated office. (You can find your nearest WHEAP designated office by calling 1-866-HEATWIS or online at http://homeenergy plus.wi,gov/section.asp?linkid=119&locid=25). The local number to make an appointment in Sheboygan County is (920) 459-3207.

If you have any additional questions, you may call Pat Hafermann, elderly benefits specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center, at (920) 459-4389.

Article modified from the following resource: “The Specialist” October 2009

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