December 9 -- New Hampshire's LIHEAP has lowered its income eligibility maximum from 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines (FPG) to 125 percent due to reduced federal funding. Last year, New Hampshire's LIHEAP received $34 million; so far this year it has received $14.7 million.
In the case of a family of four, the maximum has dropped from $44,700 to $27,938 a year. The Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) has instructed its local administering agencies to pay LIHEAP benefits first to those households below 125 percent of FPG. Those households between 125 percent and 200 percent of FPG will be placed on a waiting list even if they've already been accepted into the program and received a potential benefit letter. (The state began taking applications from vulnerable households in July and from the general public in September.) All households up to the 200 percent of FPG are eligible for emergency benefits if they have no heat.
The state will not cut its benefit level, which averaged about $700 last year.
State officials said the program modification will require changes to the software that issues letters to fuel vendors. While these changes will be made as quickly as possible, it is likely that fuel vendors will not receive official notifications until the week of December 12, at which time households that meet the lower income cutoff should be able to start getting fuel deliveries. The OEP will monitor the program to ensure funds are available for emergencies as required by law, and it may be forced to start a waiting list at a future date in order to ensure that adequate resources remain to address emergencies.
Source: NH Office of Energy and Planning