We all fall behind from time to time. For many, the need for help is often hard to admit. If you need assistance in paying a utility bill, there are plenty of things you can do. Are you worried you won't have heat this winter? Will your power be shut off soon? Are you falling even further behind, with no end in sight? For many, simply finding some assistance to pay utility bills can make all the difference in the world. If this is the situation you are facing, there are plenty of options to get help. 

LIHEAP: Low Income Heating Assistance Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), is a federally funded program to offer help in paying your utility bill. There are some guidelines for this program, like most others, to help decide if you are eligible for help.

Generally speaking, the program allows for 150% of the poverty level as the maximum income allowed, in order to receive the LIHEAP benefits. The poverty levels are determined each winter, and posted in the Federal Register. There are plenty of things that go into determining the poverty level, which in turn, determines your eligibility for getting help for this.

Poverty levels are determined by location, since each state and county may have different guidelines. For assistance with utility bills, you will need to find the poverty level in your area. This will be adjusted, based on how many people live in the home. For example, if the poverty level, with 4 people in the household is 30,000 in your area, you must have a combined income of 45,000 or less to qualify for LIHEAP help with heat and power.

There are some exceptions, which could allow you to get assistance in paying your utility bills this year, even if you make more than the cap amount. LIHEAP guarantees flexibility (not acceptance) if someone in the household is receiving any of the following federal programs: Temporary help for needy families, supplemental security income, certain Veteran benefits, or food stamps. If you or someone in your household is receiving these types of benefits, you may qualify for help through the LIHEAP program. This means you can get assistance in paying your utility bill, so the power stays on in your home.

Of course, some may not be able to qualify for federal assistance in paying utility bills through the LIHEAP program. Thankfully, there are still plenty of ways to get help with your heat costs.

Call Your Local Power & Energy Companies: 

For many, simply calling the local power and water companies can yield some great results when searching for assistance with the utility bill. In many areas, those in colder climates, the power companies cannot shut off your power during the winter months. Of course, if you cannot make the payments, the power could be shut off at the end of the winter season. This means taking a more proactive approach in finding help with electricity costs.

Call your local provider, and simply ask what they can do to help. They may be able to refer you to a government agency that can offer some form of financial help. In many cases, you will be directed to a local program, where help is available even if you don't qualify for LIHEAP. Many states in colder climate areas have their own programs. In addition, some counties within each state will be able to give you some much needed help. When you need assistance in paying the utility bill, it helps to explore all options for help.

If you still get nowhere, try to set up a payment plan with the power company. You will find that many companies are willing to work with you, and offer some form of assistance with utility bills. This can be hit and miss, since the energy company may not necessarily be required to help you out.

Your Local Courthouse:

You may be able to get assistance with utilities bills by simply going to your local courthouse and asking for help. You will find many counties have their own programs designed to help you keep your power and water on. In many cases, local counties and states will have their own programs, independent of the federal programs, like LIHEAP. Those that are willing to take the time to go to their local courthouse and ask for help, just may get some assistance with utility bills, so you can keep the power on in your home.

Local Civic Groups: 

You will find many local civic groups in your area that are willing to help you out with your heating costs. In many cases, these civic organizations will offer financial assistance in paying a bill or two. Sometimes, they may even be able to help you through the entire season, especially in the colder climate areas, where heat is a necessity. By simply searching the yellow pages in your area, you will be able to find some form of help, in most cases. When you need assistance in paying a utility bill, it never hurts to ask for help from those willing.

Churches That Help Pay Bills

You may be able to get assistance with utility bills by simply reaching out to a local church, even if you don't attend. In many cases, you will find people that are more than willing to help you out during your time of need. Give this method a try. You really can get help when you need it through local churches. You will need to ask for the help before it will happen. Stop by your local churches today to see if you can get assistance with utility bills in this manner.

As you can see, there are a few ways to find the help you need with electric expenses. If the energy company is threatening to shut off your power and water, you need to act quickly. There are many programs available for those that are willing to ask for a helping hand, during their time of need. If you cannot qualify for the government programs, there are some state and local programs to try. If you still cannot qualify for assistance with the bills, try asking for help from civic groups and churches. You just may be able to find the help you need to keep the power and energy on in your home.  You can get assistance with utility bills.

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