The LIHEAP statute establishes 150 percent of the poverty level as the maximum income level allowed in determining LIHEAP income eligibility, except where 60 percent of state median income is higher. Income eligibility criteria for LIHEAP may not be set lower than 110 percent of the poverty.
The Federal government issues the poverty levels as the HHS Poverty Guidelines and state median income as State Median Income Estimates. Updates of both the HHS Poverty Guidelines and State Median Income Estimates are published each winter in the Federal Register.
Under the law, LIHEAP grantees have the flexibility of serving households having at least one member who also receives assistance from any of the following Federal programs (referred to as categorical eligibility):
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Supplemental Security Income Visit disclaimer page
- Food Stamps Visit disclaimer page (SNAP). As of October 1, 2008, the new name for Food Stamps is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Certain needs-tested Veteran Benefits Visit disclaimer page .
Other Eligibility Criteria
LIHEAP grantees have the flexibility of serving only those income eligible households that meet additional LIHEAP eligibility criteria, such as passing an assets test, residence in non-subsidized housing; or receipt of a utility disconnection notice.
Household is defined as any individual or group of individuals who are living together as one economic unit for whom residential energy is customarily purchased in common or who make un-designated payments for energy in the form of rent.
The LIHEAP statute does not define income. Generally, income means gross income, but a number of states have deductions for medical expenses over a certain level, or for some limited expenses associated with employment such as child care.