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LIHEAP IM 2012-3 State-Level Recipiency Targeting Indexes for Elderly and Young Child Households that Received Heating Assistance in FY 2008

Published: February 17, 2012
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Information Memorandums (IM)


Transmittal No.  LIHEAP-IM-2012-03 Date:  February 17, 2012







State-Level Recipiency Targeting Indexes for Elderly and Young Child Households that Received Heating Assistance in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2008


Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act, as amended (Title XXVI of Public Law 97-35, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, as amended); 45 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 96; Final Rule amending HHS block grant regulations (64 Federal Register, 55843, October 15, 1999); Government Performance Results Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-62)


To transmit State-level data on recipiency targeting indexes for elderly and young child households that received LIHEAP heating assistance in FFY 2008.

To remind States of strategies that can improve the targeting of LIHEAP vulnerable households.


This is the third consecutive year that each State is being provided its LIHEAP recipiency targeting indexes for income eligible vulnerable households with either an elderly person (60 years or older) or young child (five years or under) 1. As with the FFY 2006 and FFY 2007 data, the targeting indexes for FFY 2008 were computed separately for the Federal maximum income standard and the State’s income maximum standards2.

Purpose of State-Level Recipiency Targeting Indexes

The reporting of State recipiency targeting indexes for heating assistance serves to:

  • track and report on the elderly and young child households recipiency targeting performance measures;
  • provide feedback to States on how well they are targeting vulnerable households for use in refining outreach strategies, if necessary; and
  • encourage States to examine the program design features of those State LIHEAP programs with the highest or lowest LIHEAP recipiency targeting indexes.


LIHEAP recipiency targeting indexes are proxies for long-term, indoor health and safety outcome measures.  Outcome measures are a crucial component of annual program performance reporting under the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 (Public Law 103-62).

How the Recipiency Targeting Indexes Are Calculated

Heating recipiency targeting indexes for each State are calculated as follows:

  • calculate the percent of LIHEAP heating assisted households that are members of the target group, as calculated from each State’s LIHEAP Household Report;
  • divide that percent by the estimated percent of all LIHEAP-income eligible households that are members of the target group in the State, as estimated from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS); and
  • multiply the result by 100.


For example, if 25 percent of LIHEAP assisted households are elderly households and 20 percent of all income eligible households are elderly households, the recipiency targeting index for elderly households is 125 (25 divided by 20 multiplied by 100).  A State's recipiency targeting index indicates whether its LIHEAP program is serving a target group of households at a higher rate (recipiency targeting index greater than 100) or at a lower rate (recipiency targeting index less than 100) than their prevalence in the low income target household population.

Further technical information about the state targeting indexes, statistical confidence intervals, and data caveats are noted in Attachment B.

1The LIHEAP statute references “frail elderly” as a vulnerable group; however, a uniform definition of “frail” is not available for States to report data for such households to OCS.  Instead, States are required to report data on “elderly” households (60 years or older).   Similarly, there is no targeting measure for LIHEAP assisted households with a disabled member because States can use their own definition of “disability.”

2The LIHEAP statute allows grantees to serve households that have incomes at or below the Federal LIHEAP income standard.  This is the greater of 60 percent of State median income or 150 percent of the poverty level.  States may set their LIHEAP maximum income standards equal to or lower than the Federal LIHEAP maximum income standard as long as their income standards are not set below 110 percent of the Federal poverty level.  States reported on OCS’ LIHEAP Grantee Survey for FFY 2008 the maximum income dollar cutoffs for 4-person households for heating assistance in effect as of the first day of FFY 2008 (October, 1, 2007).  LIHEAP income eligible households are referred to occasionally in this Information Memorandum as “low income” households.



For FFY 2006 and FFY 2007, OCS calculated, ranked, and classified States’ targeting performances into low, moderate, and high performers, for comparison purposes3.  For FFY 2008, OCS decided not to provide state-level rankings of the recipiency targeting indexes after much consideration of the use of rankings that reflect, in part, sampling variability.  Instead, OCS has been working on revising the above performance classifications to fully take into account the sampling variability associated with each State’s targeting indexes.  Also, more work is needed in analyzing the state targeting indexes and the national LIHEAP recipiency targeting indexes that are included in the President’s annual Congressional Justification.  Additional statistical work is needed in revising the performance classifications.  This has resulted in a delay in providing state targeting indexes for FFY 2008.  Although the state targeting indexes for FFY 2008 are presented, the rankings and national analysis of the state targeting indexes have been eliminated.
No analysis is included for FFY 2008 of state targeting indexes rankings, as indicated above.  As stated above, OCS is revising that classification system that will assign performance categories to state targeting indexes for FY 2007, FY 2008, and FY 2009.  The classification and analysis of the data are planned to be completed this summer.

Organization of Data Tables

Table I shows how the state-level data are organized in tables 1-4 in Attachment A for each type of vulnerable low income household group using Federal and State LIHEAP income standards, as described in the second footnote.  The attached tables provide for each State its estimated state targeting indexes with statistical confidence intervals for sampling variability.

Table 1:  Organization of Data Tables 1-4 on State Recipiency Targeting
Indexes in Attachment A

Income Cutoff

Elderly Households

Young Child Households

Federal Income Maximum

Table 1

Table 3

State Income Standard

Table 2

Table 4

National LIHEAP Targeting Indexes

In FFY 2003, OCS calculated for heating assistance the baseline (initial data) national LIHEAP recipiency targeting indexes for elderly households as 79 and young child households as 122 under the Federal LIHEAP income maximum.

Beginning in FFY 2004, OCS has tracked the actual recipiency targeting indexes achieved nationwide for both household types compared to the annual performance goals set for each index, as calculated from the Census Bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey and aggregated heating assistance counts from the LIHEAP Household Report.  OCS reports annually on the performance goals and indexes achieved to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.  Table II presents national data for FY 2008 that was included in the President’s Congressional Justification for FFY 2011.

Table II:  OCS National LIHEAP Performance Targets and Performance Results (Recipiency Targeting Indexes) by Type of Vulnerable Household Group for FFY 2008

Vulnerable Household Group

Baseline Data (FFY 2003)

Performance Targets

Performance Results





Young Child




Compared to the national baseline data and the performance targets, the national performance results indicate the continued need for national improvement in LIHEAP performance targeting for both household groups, especially for low income elderly households.

Improving the Targeting of LIHEAP Vulnerable Households

In December 2008, States were sent OCS’ study, Experiences of Selected Federal Social Welfare Programs and State LIHEAP Programs in Targeting Vulnerable Elderly and Young Child Households, 2008.  The study includes information to help States improve the targeting of LHEAP vulnerable households (see Link # 3).

The study researched other Federal social welfare programs that have targeted vulnerable population groups and assessed whether the programs developed outreach and/or targeting strategies that increased program participation for vulnerable households.  It also examined the design of LIHEAP outreach, intake, and benefit determination for the LIHEAP programs in 18 States to assess what design characteristics, if any, are associated with higher targeting of vulnerable households.  The study identifies specific outreach and intake strategies and specific actions that can be effective in improving targeting performance for low income vulnerable households in LIHEAP.

Future OCS Plans for LIHEAP Performance Measurement

OCS is planning to recognize States that are leading other States in targeting elderly households, young child households, and both elderly and child households.  OCS will rely on the FFY 2010 State-level targeting indexes that will be available later in 2012.  FFY 2010 represents the first year that State LIHEAP grantees would have had the opportunity to make modifications to their State LIHEAP outreach plans as a result of the state recipiency targeting indexes that OCS provide in May 2009 (see Link # 1).

As indicated above, OCS will present this spring its revised LIHEAP targeting performance classifications to categorize and analyze State LIHEAP targeting indexes for FFYs 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Finally, OCS’ LIHEAP Performance Measures Implementation Work Group (PMIWG) is working towards the finalization of its 4-tier LIHEAP performance measurement system for the States’ use in 2014.

3See Links # 1 and 2 at the end of this Information Memorandum to obtain the LIHEAP state target indexes for FFY 2006 and FFY 2007.

(A). FFY 2008 State LIHEAP Recipiency Targeting Index Values, Tables 1-4

(B). Technical Notes on Estimates of LIHEAP Recipiency Targeting Indexes for Households Receiving LIHEAP Heating Assistance in FFY 2008


1. FFY 2006 State Targeting Indexes and Rankings, LIHEAP IM-2009-09, dated May 26, 2009

2. FFY 2007 State Targeting Indexes and Rankings, LIHEAP IM-2014-09, dated August 6, 2010

3. Final Report, Experiences of Other Federal Social Welfare Programs and State LIHEAP Programs in Targeting Vulnerable Elderly and Young Child Households (December, 2008)


Leon Litow
Lead Program Analyst
Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services
Tel:  (202) 401-5304.
E-mail:  leon.litow@acf.hhs.gov



Jeannie L. Chaffin
Office of Community Services
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C.  20447