Tribal Benefits

Training Tool

Creating a Benefit Matrix (powerpoint and audio)

Creating a Benefit Matrix Based on Points: A Step-by-Step Interactive Guide

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Benefit Levels for Heating, Cooling and Crisis - FY 2022
Criteria for Determining Heating Benefits - FY 2022

The LIHEAP Statute, Section 2605(b)(5), says grantees must "provide, in a timely manner, that the highest level of assistance will be furnished to those households which have the lowest incomes and the highest energy costs or needs in relation to income, taking into account family size." The section (also known as Assurance 5) also says that grantees may not differentiate in implementing this section between the households described Assurance 2(a) and 2(b), that is, there can be no difference in the treatment of households eligible because of their income and those categorically eligible because they receive benefits under TANF, Food Stamps, SSI,etc.)

The statute defines "highest home energy needs" as "taking into account both the energy burden of such household and the unique situation of such household that results from having members of vulnerable populations, including very young children, individuals with disabilities, and frail older individuals."

Furthermore, "energy burden" is defined as "the expenditures of the household for home energy divided by the income of the household."

In addition to the three critical factors cited in the statute: income, household/family size, and energy cost or need, grantees traditionally have type, or individual bill. They also take into account their LIHEAP allocation for the year.

Section D of the Tribal Manual says most tribes use a payment matrix to make sure they are meeting the requirement that the highest level of assistance goes to households with the lowest incomes and highest energy costs. A payment matrix is a chart on which all of the required factors--income, energy costs (usually represented by fuel types,) energy needs, and family size--are listed so an intake worker can find the correct benefit level by locating the characteristics of the applicant on the chart. The chart is important, but more important are the decisions that have to be made to correctly fill in the chart.

The Tribal Manual states a tribe must know the following in order to design a matrix:

1. Approximately how much money the tribe will spend for each type of assistance (heating, cooling, crisis, or weatherization).
2. Approximately how many eligible households the tribe plans to serve. The tribe may want to base its payment matrix on the maximum number of households it thinks will be eligible and apply for assistance. (If the tribe has funds left, it can issue additional benefits to all the households or use the funds for other purposes, e.g., crisis, weatherization, carryover, etc.)
3. Heating and/or cooling energy costs for the different types of fuels used by households and an idea of how many households use each type of fuel.
4. Any special energy needs the household may have, such as elderly members, young children or medical problems. Section D of the Tribal Manual goes step-by-step through the process of creating a benefit matrix.

Examples of Payment Matrices


AL | AK | AZ | CA | ME | ME | MI | MS | MT | NM | NY | NC | OK | OR | RI | SD | WA | WY


New Mexico
  Poarch Band of Creek Indians   Pueblo of Laguna
  United Cherokee Ani-Yun-Wiya Nationheating, cooling
New York
    St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
  Association of Village Council Presidents
Seneca Nation of Indians heating, cooling
  Bristol Bay Native Association
North Carolina
  Chuathbaluk Traditional Council   Tribal Council of the Lumbee Nation
  Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
  Kenaitze Indian Tribe   Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town
  Orutsararmuit Native Council
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
  Seldovia Village Tribe   Citizen Potawatomi Nation
  Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc.   Comanche Indian Tribe
  Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority   Delaware Nation
  Yakutat Tlingit Tribe   Fort Sill Apache Tribe
  Kialegee Tribal Town heatingcooling
  The Navajo Nation   Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
San Carlos Apache Tribe   Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma heating, cooling
  Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
  Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians   United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma
Enterprise Rancheria   Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
  Hoopa Valley Tribe   Wyandotte Nation
  Hopland Band of Pomo Indians
  Karuk Tribe heating, cooling   Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw
  Mooretown Rancheria
Confederate Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community
  Northern California Indian Development Council, Inc.   Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
  Pinoleville Pomo Nation   The Klamath Tribes
  Quartz Valley Indian Reservation
Rhode Island
  Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health   Narragansett Indian Tribe
  Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians heating, cooling
South Dakota
  Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association   Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. heating, cooling
  Yurok Tribe   HOH Indian Tribe
Kalispel Tribe of Indians
  Aroostook Band of Micmacs   Lummi Indian Business Council
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians   Makah Indian Tribe
  Passamaquoddy Indian Township Tribal Government   Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
  Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point   Quileute Tribal Council
  Quinault Indian Nation
  The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians   Small Tribes Organization of Western Washington
Little River Band of Ottowa Indians   South Puget Inter-Tribal Planning Agency
  Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians heating, cooling   Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation
  Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
  Northern Arapaho Nation
  Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Shoshone Tribe of Wind River Reservation
  Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians    
  Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes  
  Blackfeet Tribe  
  Chippewa Cree Tribe  
  Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes<  
  Fort Belknap Agency  


At the 2012 National Energy and Utility Affordable Conference, Anita Taylor with the Tanana Chiefs Conference gave a presentation about the Conference's energy assistance program. It covers their benefit matrix starting on page 12.