March 5, 2012 -- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on February 17 signed a supplemental appropriations bill that includes $21.2 million in state funds to augment the state's LIHEAP.
This week the LIHEAP office, the Department of Community Development (DCD), announced it will increase benefit levels. Households with the lowest incomes that heat with delivered fuels (oil, kerosene, propane) will receive a maximum of $1,095, up from the $675 announced by DCD prior to finalization of its LIHEAP allotment and receipt of the state funds. Households that heat with electricity or natural gas will receive $635, up from $285 previously.
The increase brings the delivered fuel benefit to slightly more than last year's maximum of $1,050; however, utility fuel households will receive less than last year when their maximum was $750. Historically, the state has provided much larger benefits to delivered fuel households due to the normally higher price of home heating oil and propane and due to the moderating prices for natural gas this year. In Massachusetts, about 30 percent of LIHEAP households heat with delivered fuels. Last year the program served about 211,000 households.
The state uses a tiered benefit matrix under which households with the lowest incomes, largest families and highest fuel costs receive the highest benefits, with income levels ranging from 0 to 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines ($22,350 for a family of four) to 60 percent of state median income ($60,035 for a family of four). It also provides an additional benefit, called the High Energy Cost Supplement, of up to $100 to those with the highest energy costs within each poverty group.