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Assets / Resource Tests

Table - State Assets Test for Heating Eligibility

In addition to income, states may look at household assets (also referred to as liquid assets, or resources) in determining financial eligibility for LIHEAP. The LIHEAP statute does not require assets tests or otherwise mention them; however, at least a dozen states utilized an assets test in 2013.

States that utilize assets tests cite their policies aimed at serving those households most in need. These states assume that those with cash assets, or assets that can be readily converted to cash, are less in need than those without such assets and that LIHEAP funds should go to those who don't have assets and are in greater need of LIHEAP.

Among states utilizing assets tests, variations exist, for example:

  • Allowable assets ranged from a high per household of $20,000 to a low of $2,000
  • Allowable assets may increase in proportion to household size, e.g., $5,000 for a household of 1; $7,000 for a household of 2
  • States may allow higher assets for households with elderly members
  • Amount of assets may be added to gross income and if the amount is under the annual gross income for the household size, the household is eligible

State definitions of assets vary, but they often include:

  • Cash
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • IRAs and 401ks
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Property on which the applicant is not living

State exclusions from countable assets often include:

  • Household's primary residence and the property upon which it is located
  • One vehicle
  • Jointly owned resources
  • Household furnishings
  • College grants or loans
  • Burial accounts