heating costs
Expanded energy assistance was announced Tuesday for Texas County residents.

The Missouri Department of Social Services announced last week that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Energy Assistance (EA) program will now be available to help Missourians with their heating and cooling bills year-round and the benefit amount will double for those who are eligible.

For help, the new benefit amount will depend on the fuel type as listed below:

Natural gas – $652

Tank propane – $990

Electric – $636

Fuel oil – $652

Wood – $438

Kerosene – $306

Cylinder propane – $354

Any individual who received help through energy assistance beginning Oct. 1, 2021, is eligible for the increase. If a benefit has already been issued, a new benefit will be issued to cover the additional amount. For example, if a $318 benefit for help with an electric bill was paid, the remaining $318 will be paid.

In addition, the maximum benefit amount through the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) will be $1,600 for Winter ECIP (previously $800) and $1,200 for Summer ECIP (previously $600).

“This is a monumental change that can make a huge difference for a household that may be experiencing financial hardships,” said Robert J. Knodell, acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services. “Utility costs are rising, and it is important for the safety and well-being of Missourians that the amount of help available to them during times of need better reflect the increased prices.”

LIHEAP serves eligible individuals through the help of local Community Action Agencies. In this area, that is Ozark Action Inc. Individuals with home energy bills who are at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income (SMI) may be eligible for help through LIHEAP. For a family of four, 60 percent of the SMI would be a monthly income of $4,252 or a yearly income of $51,021.

In addition to meeting the income criteria, low-income Missourians must: 

•Be responsible for paying home utility costs

•Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments

•Be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence

LIHEAP may be able to help an individual pay their home energy bill through EA, which is a one-time payment for heating or cooling bills, or through ECIP. The amount of help available through ECIP will depend on the amount of money needed to settle the energy crisis.

To apply for help, Missourians will need to complete and submit a LIHEAP Application https://mydss.mo.gov/media/pdf/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program and any documents the application asks for to Ozark Action Inc. by mail or online. For more information about LIHEAP and the services available visit the DSS website https://mydss.mo.gov/utility-assistance.

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