Two programs are available through the Surry County Department of Social Services to help needy families needing fuel assistance this year, according to Director Wayne Black.
This year, the department is offering a Low Income Energy Assistance Program as well as a Crisis Intervention Program.
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program targets its annual one-time energy assistance payments to priority groups in need of help.
And this year one of the requirements to qualify for the fuel assistance has been eased.
“There is a change this year to the targeted population involving households with members 60 years of age and older,” Black said. “Whereas last year ‘everyone’ in the household had to be age 60 and older to be in the priority group, (this year) the priority group will include households with ‘a person’ age 60 or older.”
In addition to households with seniors, the other priority group with be those homes with an adult receiving disability payments whether through state agencies or Veterans Affairs, although Black noted that few households will qualify for this priority group due to the stringent requirements imposed by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Households within these two priority groups are eligible to receive fuel assistance benefits from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31, 2013, although Black said those benefits could be extended further based on available funds.
“Any household can potentially receive benefits from Feb. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2013, or until funds are exhausted,” Black said.
In addition to the priority group criteria, eligible households must meet income requirements as follows:
• For a one-person household, the maximum income limit is $1,210/month.
• A two-person household has a maximum limit of $1,639/month.
• A three-person household has a maximum limit of $2,068/month.
• A four-person household has a maximum income limit of $2,497/month.
“The household must be ‘vulnerable’ to be eligible,” Black said.
“Vulnerable” is defined as “subject to the rising cost of heating, has a heat source and is billed separately for the heat expense.”
“This could include private living arrangements and public housing where heating costs are billed separately from the rent,” Black said. “A person living in an institution or a household in which heating costs are included with rent are not vulnerable and not eligible.”
In addition, there is a resource limit on eligibility, Black said. Household members meet this requirement if their countable resources are $2,200 or less as of the date of their application. This includes cash on hand, savings accounts and other resources.
Payment amounts are based on income and household size.
Applications are being taken at the Department of Social Services in Dobson.
The Crisis Intervention Program serves families suffering from a heating crisis, Black said, including those experiencing or in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency and who are unable to receive assistance from other sources.
“Life-threatening is defined as a household which has no heating or cooling source, or has a disconnect notice for their primary heating service, and the health or well-being of a household member would be in danger if this problem is not alleviated,” Black said.
Each household will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether there is a crisis.
In addition to being determined to be in a crisis, households who qualify for this assistance are required to meet income and citizenship requirements.
The income requirements are:
• For a single-person household the maximum income is $1,397/month.
• For a two-person household the maximum income is $1,892/month.
• A three-person household has a maximum income of $2,387/month.
• A four-person household has a maximum income of $3,377/month.
The maximum allowed benefit under the Crisis Intervention Program is $600 a year.
Requests for this service can be made at the Department of Social Services in Dobson.
For more information, call the Department of Social Services at 401-8800.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.