The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) helps low-income households with the winter heating costs from November 1, 2004 to April 30, 2005. LEAP pays a portion of the home heating costs, but is not intended to pay the entire costs of home heating.
To be eligible for LEAP, an individual must pay home heating costs to a utility company, fuel dealer, or as part of the rent. If the individual is living in non-subsidized housing and is paying home heating costs either in the form of rent or as a separate charge in addition to rent, the individual may be eligible for LEAP.
Individuals who live in subsidized housing are eligible for LEAP, if the unit has a separate meter for fuel charges or if individuals are billed a heating surcharge for fuel.
The household income for eligible persons must be less than $1,435 for a single person and $1,926 for a couple.
For individuals who are on Old Age Pension, Supplemental Security Income, Aid to the
Needy Disabled and/or Aid to the Blind, a short form application will be mailed. Individuals can complete the form and return to the local county department of human/social services. The long form of the application will be mailed on request to other individuals after October 1. Copies can also be downloaded at www.ceaf.org
Individuals can apply for LEAP assistance at the county department of human/social services. Individuals must provide proof of income from all sources unless they receive Old Age Pension, Aid to the Needy Disabled/Aid to The Blind and/or Supplemental Security Income. In addition, individuals must provide a copy of the most recent heating bill showing the company name, address, and account numbers, or a copy of the most recent rent receipt, if heating costs are included in the rent.
LEAP payments are made directly to the utility provider in most cases, rather than to the individual.
If individuals have a shutoff notice or if the heating service has been disconnected, the individual should immediately contact the county department of human/social services. Generally if the utility company is aware that an application for LEAP is being processed, the utility company will not disconnect the service.
The Public Utilities Commission has set guidelines, called "Rule 13" which must be followed by regulated utility companies when attempting to shut off utilities. Under the Rule 13", the utility must give the customer ten days advance notice of its intent to shut-off the utilities. The utilities may not be shut-off for sixty days if the customer has medical proof that a shut-off would be harmful. The medical certification may be used only once a year.
In addition, the utility company must accept payments from the customer to avoid utility shut-offs. The utility customer is entitled to hearing before utilities are shut-off.
Individuals may also be eligible for budget billing to help with bills that are in arrears may be added to the budget billing arrangement and spread in equal payments over a period of up to six months.
In another program now available, individuals may be eligible for a $600 credit on their Medication costs through Medicare. For copies of the LEAP forms, assistance with applying for LEAP, or enrolling the Medicare Prescription Discount Card program, call 303-333-3482.
Eileen Doherty, M.S. is the Executive Director of Senior Answers and Services and the Colorado Gerontological Society. She has 30 years of experience in gerontology in administration, research, training and education, and clinical practice. She can be reached at 303-333-3482 or at firstname.lastname@example.org