Assistance

HEAP - Home Energy Assistance Program

2015 - 2016
 

Erie County Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP):

478 Main Street: 1st Floor

Buffalo, NY 14202

HEAP Hotline: 858-7644
HEAP Office Hours 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

Erie County 2015-16 Home Energy Assistance Program

Click Here for a printable version of the HEAP program outline

HEAP is federally funded assistance with home heating costs and energy conservation for eligible households. Program components include benefit assistance for heat and electricity, furnace repair or replacement, weatherization referral, and cooling assistance (in summer months-based on medical necessity).

HEAP Cooling Assistance is available beginning May 1, 2015. The program will close on August 31, 2015.

All HEAP components are federally funded. The funding is limited and cooling assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Income Eligibility Requirements: Households must have received a 2014-15 HEAP benefit OR have income which does not exceed the 2014-15 maximum HEAP guidelines.

Medical Need: At least one member of the household must have a medical condition exacerbated by extreme heat. The medical condition must be clearly stated/documented in writing by a Physician, Physician's Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner, and be dated within the last 12 months. Documentation older than 12 months may be used, if it provides sufficient information to indicate the medical condition is considered chronic.

Households that received HEAP Cooling Assistance within the last 10 years, or households with a working air conditioner unit that is less than five years old, are not eligible. Households that have heating costs included in rent, and rent is subsidized (Section 8, Belmont, etc.) are not eligible.

How to Apply: In person, at the HEAP office at 291 Pearl Street, Buffalo, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.; By mailing the application to the HEAP office; and calling the HEAP Application Request Line at 858-1969 for an application packet. Applications can be mailed beginning May 1, 2015.

Applicants will be provided a list of qualified contractors in the local area who have a contract with NYS to install AC units. HEAP will notify the chosen vendor of program eligibility. The vendor will then contact the client to set up an appointment.

For all other related inquiries, call the HEAP Hotline at 858-7644.

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HEAP- Benefit assistance with Heating and Electricity costs

1. Early Outreach and SNAP or TA AutoPay for Regular HEAP

2. Regular HEAP

3. Emergency HEAP

4. How to apply for HEAP

5. Documentation Requirements: Regular HEAP

6. Documentation Requirements: Emergency HEAP

7. Subsidized Rent & HEAP Eligibility

8. Wage Calculation

9. Countable & Excluded Resources

10. HERR & other furnace Assistance, Weatherization Assistance Program, EmPower NY, Lifeline

11. Other assistance if HEAP benefits are exhausted or program is closed

 

HEAP Income Guidelines 2015 – 2016; Monthly Household Gross Income Cannot Exceed: 

Household Size

Gross Monthly Income

1

$2,244

2

$2,935

3

$3,625

4

$4,316

5

$5,006

6

$5,697

7

$5,826

8

$5,956

9

$6,085

10

$6,215

 

 

 

1. Early Outreach and SNAP or TA Auto Pay for Regular HEAP:

Early Outreach:

Households that received HEAP last season and have a senior citizen, disabled individual, or child age 5 or younger may receive an Early Outreach application beginning August 24, 2015. These households may apply for HEAP before the season officially opens.

The only documentation required for an early access application is copies of earned income, if any (last four weeks proof of wages -pay stubs).

Applicants who received HEAP last season are not required to submit proof of Social Security, SSD, workers comp, unemployment, utility bills, or proof of residency.

Households who believe they should have received an Early Access application but did not, or who need to replace a lost or damaged application, may call the HEAP Hotline at 858-7644 for assistance.

The mail-in application is for a Regular HEAP benefit only, for household’s main source of heat.

We will begin notifying companies of approvals from early access applications when program opens. The approval may restore service, or will create a 30-day hold from termination of service, or will result in a delivery of fuel, depending on the circumstances.

No HEAP Benefits resulting from early access approvals will be promised or issued to heat supplier until HEAP officially opens on November 16, 2015.

SNAP or TA AutoPay:

Households currently receiving SNAP or TA assistance may qualify for an AutoPay HEAP benefit that will be processed and credited automatically to heating bill in December or January. Households wishing to check the status of an AutoPay may call the HEAP hotline at 858-7644 beginning October 1, 2015. If a household misses the AutoPay, they may submit a HEAP application for processing prior to season opening.

Early Outreach and AutoPay eligibility notices will be mailed in December, and benefits should appear as a credit on December or January heating bills.

The AutoPay is for a Regular HEAP benefit only, for household’s main source of heat.

No HEAP Benefits resulting from AutoPay will be promised or issued to heat supplier until HEAP officially opens on November 16, 2015.

2. Regular HEAP benefit:

Regular HEAP for household’s main source of heat is available beginning November 16, 2015.

Gas and Electric benefits appear as a credit on bill about 60 days after approval. Oil, propane, wood, pellets, and coal benefits produce a delivery of fuel totaling benefit amount.

Household does not need a shutoff notice or low fuel to receive Regular HEAP.

If there is a shutoff notice, a 30-day “hold” is placed on heat account if benefit is approved.

If there is a shutoff notice, service will not be shut off during that 30 days and utility company will not seek collection for the portion of the total bill equaling the benefit amount.

If service is off, benefit approval may restore service depending on total amount owed.

There is no resource test for Regular HEAP; HEAP will not examine household’s savings or checking accounts etc.

Regular HEAP Benefit Amounts:

$350 base benefit- Natural Gas or Electric Heat

$575 base benefit- Deliverable fuel (oil, propane, kerosene)

$500 base benefit- Deliverable fuel (wood, coal, pellets, corn)

Add on $25- Add an additional $25 to base benefit if Household has Tier 1 income

Add on $25- Add an additional $25 to base benefit if there is a child age 5 or under OR an adult over the age of 60 OR disabled individual in Household

Renter’s Benefit for Heat Included in Rent:

If Heat costs are included in Rent (NON SUBSIDIZED RENT ONLY), benefit amount is based on household income:

  • $35 benefit if income is Tier I
  • $30 if income is Tier II

If Heat is included in Rent, and Rent is subsidized, household is not eligible for Regular HEAP.

3. Emergency HEAP: (Shutoff Notice or Low Fuel Supply is Required)

Emergency HEAP benefits are available beginning January 4, 2016.

One Emergency “Heating” benefit, for main source of heat is available- If there is a shutoff notice or low fuel supply & Regular benefit was already received.

One Emergency “Heat-Related” electricity benefit is available- If there is a Shutoff notice and electric is needed to run furnace or thermostat.

There is a Resource Test for Emergency HEAP:

Household may have no more than $2,000 (or $3,000 for a household with a member age 60 or older) in available liquid resources ($$ in savings, checking, stocks, bonds, CDs, IRAs, 401{k}). Monthly living expenses in savings are not counted and are determined on a case-by-case basis. Countable (liquid) and Excluded Resources are listed below.

Emergency HEAP Benefit Amounts:

4. How to Apply for HEAP: Effective November 16, 2015

If Service is OFF, or household is OUT of heating fuel:

 

If Service is ON, but household has a current shutoff notice or low supply (less than ¼ tank) of heating fuel:

If Service is ON, with NO shutoff notice and NO low fuel supply:

**An authorized representative may apply on behalf of individuals unable to appear at HEAP or unable to call the HEAP hotline. A signed and dated note from the applicant authorizing the individual to apply on their behalf is required.

Or, clients may apply for Regular HEAP electronically by visiting: MyBenefits.NY.gov

5. Documentation Requirements for Regular HEAP:

1. If Household is receiving TA or SNAP:

Many Active TA or SNAP households have Regular HEAP calculated and sent to heating supplier automatically (AutoPay). No application for Regular HEAP is required for these households. If AutoPay is not received, a HEAP application must be submitted with a current utility bill.

To check the status of an AutoPay- HEAP Hotline, 858-7644.

To request a HEAP Application- Application Request Line: 858-1969.

2. If Household is not receiving TA or SNAP and received HEAP assistance last season:

A completed and signed HEAP application and the following documentation is required:

 

3. If Household is not receiving TA or SNAP and did not receive HEAP assistance last season:

1. Proof of GROSS income received within the last 30 days for all household members.

2. Wages: If paid weekly, last 4 paystubs.

3. Wages: If paid bi-weekly, last 2 paystubs.

4. Award letters- if Applicable, for Social Security, Pension, Unemployment, Workers Comp, Disability, etc.

5. Yearly statement of interest received (savings, checking, CDs, money market account, etc.)

6. Dividend proof (stocks, bonds securities, etc.)

7. Social Security Numbers for all household members.

8. One (1) form of ID for all household members (Birth Cert. OR SS Card OR Driver’s License OR School ID, etc.)

9. Proof of Residency (Mortgage proof or Rent/Lease information).

10. Current Utility Bills (Heat & Electric).

6. Documentation Requirements for Emergency HEAP:

If Household received a Regular HEAP benefit this season:

If Household did not receive a Regular benefit this season:

Applicant may apply for Emergency for “heat-related” electric, and Regular benefit for main source of heat simultaneously, and must provide all documentation for Regular & Emergency HEAP.

7. Subsidized Rent & HEAP Eligibility:

If household receives Government Rental Assistance (Section 8, Belmont, HUD, etc.):

 

8. Wage Calculation for HEAP Applications:

HEAP calculates all wages using these formulas:

9. Liquid (countable) & Excluded (not countable) Resources for Emergency HEAP

Countable (these are counted for Emergency HEAP resource test):

Excluded (these are not counted for Emergency HEAP resource test):

10. Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement (HERR) and other furnace Assistance, Weatherization Assistance Program, EmPower NY, Lifeline

1. HERR

HERR may assist HEAP-eligible homeowners, who have minimal financial resources, with the cost of repair or replacement of essential heating equipment (furnace, boiler, etc.).

To apply, HOMEOWNER or authorized representative must apply in person with ALL necessary documentation. An authorized representative is permitted to apply on behalf of the homeowner, but must provide a statement signed by the homeowner. Reasonable accommodations will be explored for homebound applicants to assist with application requirements.

HERR Documentation Requirements:

 

 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS:

Other furnace Assistance (if HERR is closed):

National Fuel Emergency Heating Repair or Replacement Program

Erie County Emergency Aid for Families/Adults:

Home Performance w/ Energy Star- People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH)

2. Weatherization Assistance:

Home Performance w/ Energy Star- PUSH Buffalo (serves all of Erie County)

Low-interest loan/grant through NYS, for Energy Related home improvements, may be up to 50 percent subsidized with a grant for eligible households. Loan can be paid “on bill” (equaling cost saved each month on energy bills based on installed measures).

Contact 884-0356 for details.

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP):

HEAP Eligible Households qualify for WAP.

WAP is NO-COST home weatherization services and energy conservation improvements including attic and wall insulation, weather stripping, caulking, testing of furnace, other minor energy conserving home repairs.

If Head of Household is 60 or older:

If Head of Household is under 60:

Renters may apply for Weatherization assistance, though Landlord may be asked to contribute 25 percent towards costs, unless Landlord is also HEAP-eligible.

EmPower NY:

NO-COST assistance for HEAP eligible households, funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Eligibility is based, in part, on gas and/or electric usage. Not all applicants will qualify for assistance.

Services may include:

3. Telephone Discount:

LifeLine Program: Low-cost telephone service:

11. Other assistance if HEAP benefits are exhausted or program is closed

Program Availability is subject to funding and these programs are generally not open year-round.

National Fuel “Neighbor for Neighbor” heating bill assistance (All heat source types):

“Care and Share” Electric Bill assistance:

Emergency Aid for Families through Erie County (EAF) – 478 Main Street, 1st floor, Buffalo

Emergency Aid for Adults (EAA)- 478 Main Street, 1st floor, Buffalo

Erie County Emergency Assistance to request placement in a temporary shelter:

Report to Erie County Emergency Housing Unit, 158 Pearl Street, Buffalo, Monday- Friday, between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. OR Call Erie County Crisis Services at 834-3131, after 4 p.m., or during the weekend.

Medicaid

Erie County Work Center
158 Pearl Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

Hours of Operation: 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

The Medicaid Program in Erie County provides access to a variety of public health insurance programs including Medicaid, Family Planning Benefits Program and the Medicare Savings Program.

Financial eligibility is determined based on the income and resource standards governing the Public Health Insurance Programs.

Persons eligible for Medicaid may be required to enroll in a Managed Care plan.

Applications - Eligibility Information

New York State has made the process of applying for Public Health Insurance more convenient. You may now apply by phone or by using your home computer. There is no need to complete a paper application if you use the following link or phone number:

You may, if you choose, still complete a paper application. Paper applications are reviewed by local Medicaid staff. Paper applications that meet specific criteria are sent to the state for completion. Applications can be obtained by calling (716) 858-6244, or in person at 158 Pearl Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.  When applying for Medicaid, a face-to-face interview is optional and available upon the request of the applicant. Applications can be mailed to address listed above. In-person interviews are available upon request of the applicant.

Information for Individuals with Active Medicaid Cases

Please contact our Medicaid Call Center at 858-6244

Links for further information

SNAP Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) provides low-income households with benefits to purchase food in order to maintain good health. If a person works hard but still struggles to make ends meet, they may be able to supplement their budget with SNAP benefits.

Location:

Erie County Work Center                                      
158 Pearl Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

Hours of Operation: 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

 

Who is eligible for SNAP Benefits?

- A SNAP household consists of all individuals in the home who claim to purchase and prepare meals together (an applicant must list everyone who lives with them on the application, such as roommates, non-citizens, boarders, and so on).

        * Spouses and their children up to age 22 who live in the same household must apply together.

- For most households, eligibility to receive benefits is based on household size, income and some household expenses.

- If a person's income is less than or equal to the amounts in the chart supplied (based on family size), the applicant may be eligible for SNAP benefits.

Click Here for a list of poverty level guidelines, effective October 1, 2014.


 How do I apply for SNAP Benefits?

An individual must fill out and submit an application to our agency to be considered for SNAP benefits.

Internet applications can be filed via the link: www.mybenefits.ny.gov

Completed applications can be faxed to 858-6834.

Completed applications can be mailed to:

Erie County Department of Social Services; P.O. Box 120; Buffalo, NY 14201; Attention: SNAP Division.

What are Emergency SNAP Benefits?

Households that are deemed eligible for expedited benefits will receive emergency SNAP benefits within 5 calendar days following the date the application was received in our office (All SNAP applications are screened for emergency eligibility on the day the application is received by the Department of Social Services).

Notification of emergency eligibility will be sent to the applicant.

Households not eligible for expedited processing may still be eligible for the regular SNAP program and will receive an eligibility determination within 30 days of applying.

If I am approved for Expedite or Emergency SNAP Benefits, will I continue to receive SNAP benefits from month to month?

Not automatically. In order to continue receiving SNAP benefits, the regular application process must be completed. This means an applicant may be contacted and asked to verify all information listed on the application. If an individual does not follow through, they will not continue to receive SNAP benefits.

How and when will I be interviewed?

When the office receives an application, a worker will call the applicant for a telephone interview. The applicant will be notified in writing of the time and date of their phone interview.

If an applicant does not have a working phone number, a face-to-face interview will be scheduled.

During this interview, the number of people in a particular SNAP household and the SNAP household's income will be determined. The amount of SNAP benefits an applicant receives, if they qualify, will depend on this information.

An applicant will have to provide the social security numbers of everyone in their household who is applying for SNAP benefits.

What documentation will be required to complete the eligibility process?

If possible, applicants should submit all documentation with their applications. Click here to view SNAP eligibility factors and required documentation.

How and when does the SNAP office make its decision?

The SNAP office must make its decision of a person's eligibility within 30 days of the date of submission. SNAP benefits will usually be issued from the original date of the application. Applicants will be given 10 days after the interview to provide more documents.

Once all the required documentation is received, the examiner will process the case within 30 days of the application date. If required documentation is received within 30 days of the application date, SNAP eligibility will begin from the application date.

If required documentation is received between 30 and 60 days from the application date, the case will be opened. However, eligibility will begin the 1st of the month in which the documents were received.

If eligible, applicants will be notified of the amount of their SNAP benefits and the period of time for which they are certified, as well as the name and number of their worker, and when benefits will become available. After a case is opened, the applicant's pick-up date each month is the same as a last digit of their case number (i.e. - Case F123456 FF would have a pick-up day on the 6th of every month).

How do I access my SNAP benefits?

If the application is approved, the applicant will receive an identification card and Personnel Identification Number (PIN), which acts much like an ATM card. The ID and PIN are each mailed separately.

What can I purchase with SNAP Benefits?

Food or food products meant to be eaten by people, including:

You cannot purchase:

How do I contact my SNAP worker?

If you currently have an active SNAP case, use the attached alphabetic breakdown of workers based on your last name.

Other Resources:

Cardholder portal that allows recipients to check account balance, for cash or SNAP benefits: Click here

Information on the Double Up Food Bucks Program, with frequently asked questions and answers. The SNAP EBT acceptance program runs through October 31, 2015 (or the closing day of the market, whatever comes first) at participating local farmers markets.

Educational Video - Eat Smart New York: Eat Better for Less -to help low-income families meet the nutritional needs of their families on a low-cost budget.

Special Investigations Division

Location:
43 Court Street
Convention Towers - 2nd Floor
Buffalo, New York 14202

Hours of Operation: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM  [Monday - Friday]

The Special Investigations Division [SID] investigates welfare fraud, including Temporary Assistance, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Day Care and HEAP and works aggressively to recover funds wherever possible to reduce the cost of assistance programs for Erie County taxpayers.

 

Welfare Fraud: Prevention, Prosecution and Recovery

Welfare Fraud is any intentional action which results in a recipient receiving benefits or payments to which they are not entitled. In an effort to prevent fraud, our Front End Detection [FEDS] Unit conducts investigations on applicants for temporary [public] assistance. These investigations include a number of verification activities, including visits to the applicant's home. They are designed to verify the basic facts on the application.

In 2010, our FEDS Unit completed 3,700 Temporary Assistance and Day Care investigations. Identifying discrepancies in applicant information and preventing ineligible cases from being opened, resulting in more than $7 million in welfare savings.

Rectifying welfare fraud after it's occurred involves the use of 3 strategies: criminal prosecution, administrative sanctions and restitution. If fraud is alleged after a case has been opened, our team of investigators work to detect the fraud and ultimately prosecute civilly or criminally those individuals who have defrauded the public benefit system.

Any and all overextended benefits issued to ineligible recipients (intentionally or unintentionally) are pursued for collection via grant reduction, recoupment, judgments and income executions within the parameters of Social Service regulations and NYS law. In 2010, the combination of monies recovered and FEDS cost avoidance resulted in more than $38 million due to the efforts of the Special Investigation Division.

*Effective August 3, 2015, the Resource Recovery Unit of Erie County Social Services is moving to the Special Investigations Division, located on the second floor at 43 Court St., Buffalo.

Resource Recovery had previously been located on the seventh floor of the Rath Building, 95 Franklin St., Buffalo. The unit is responsible, in part, for obtaining liens from applicable clients seeking Temporary Assistance. Clients are to be referred to the new location.

 

How you can help us:

If you become aware of potential welfare fraud, contact us at one of the following:

Telephone Hot Line:
858-1886


E-Mail:
fraudcomplaint@erie.gov


Postal Mail:
ECDSS
Special Investigations Division
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202




 

Temporary Assistance

The Department of Social Services offers temporary help for needy men, women and children. If you are unable to work, can't find a job or your job does not pay enough to meet your basic living expenses you may be able to get help. Erie County has a Work First policy that focuses on the temporary nature of cash assistance and an individual's responsibility to achieve self-sufficiency.

Emergency Temporary Assistance offers help for an urgent need or situation that has to be taken care of right away. Some examples of an emergency are: