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Income Eligibility

Table - State Percent of Poverty Guidelines for FY 2018

Graph - State Eligibility Income Limits for FY 2018

Income Eligibility:
States must set LIHEAP income eligibility standards within the maximums and minimums established by law. The LIHEAP statute {(Section 2605(b)(2)(B) or Assurance 2} says that to be eligible a household must have an income that does not exceed the greater of 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline (FPG) or 60 percent of the state median income (SMI) level.(The FPG is the baseline of 100 percent of federal poverty, adjusted each year by the federal government.) In addition, income eligibility levels may not be set below 110 percent of the FPG. The federal government establishes the FPG and SMI poverty guidelines annually and publishes updates in the Federal Register each winter.

States may adopt the year's new guidelines at any time between the date of publication in the Federal Register and the first day of the next fiscal year or by the beginning of the grantee's fiscal year, whichever is later. For LIHEAP, the majority of states use the prior year guidelines until the first day of the next fiscal year in order to avoid changing guidelines in the middle of their program year. Most states start their new fiscal year October 1.

The FPG and SMI guidelines for optional use in FFY 2016 and mandatory use in FFY 2017 are described in the IMs below:

Income Eligibility: State Practices: Within the parameters set by the statute, the LIHEAP income maximums vary among the states considerably. This table shows states that planned to use variations of the FPG during 2017, and those that planned to use 60 percent SMI, and how these income maximums compare to 100 and 150 percent of FPG for a household of four. (The variations are based on states' 2016 plans filed in late 2015 and some may have changed. States may change income guidelines during the middle of the year if they file a state plan amendment.) Although states can have a different poverty level for each component (crisis, cooling and weatherization), the majority use the same poverty level for all components.

As can be seen on the table, states use the flexibility allowed in the LIHEAP statute to serve households with a wide range of income levels, e.g., 23 states used the 150 - 200 percent maximum, while 10 had ranges from 110 to 150 percent, and 16 states and the District of Columbia chose to use 60 percent SMI.