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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 states 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 set their benefit levels using other factors such as: fuel type, dwelling type, individual bill, or climate or region of the state. They also take into account their LIHEAP allocation for the year.

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FY2017 Benefit Payment Matrices and Calculations