Assistance

HEAP - Home Energy Assistance Program

2013 - 2014

 

Erie County Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP):

478 Main Street: 1st Floor

Buffalo NY 14202

 HEAP Hotline: 858-7644
HEAP Office Hours 8:00am-4:00pm

Erie County 2013-14 Home Energy Assistance Program

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

 HEAP HOTLINE: 858-7644 APPLICATION REQUEST LINE: 858-1969

Friday, March 14, 2014 is the closing date for the Regular HEAP Benefit.

The Regular benefit is for a  household’s main source of heat. A shut-off notice or low fuel supply is not required. Walk-in applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. Mail-in and online applications will be accepted if postmarked or submitted on March 14.

Monday, March 17, 2014 is the closing date for Emergency HEAP Benefits.

There are two Emergency benefits available, one for a household’s main source of heat (if service is off, or if there is a shut-off notice or low fuel supply), and one for “heat-related” electric (if electricity is needed to run heating equipment, thermostat, furnace fan, etc.). For emergency assistance, clients are encouraged to visit the HEAP Office at 478 Main Street, Buffalo, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., or call the HEAP Hotline at 858-7644.

The following HEAP components will remain open:

 

For Regular HEAP, applicants may apply by mail, in person or online via MyBenefits.ny.gov

A mail-in application may be requested by calling the HEAP Application Request line at 858-1969.

Or, see below for a printable application.

Click here for a Printable HEAP Application.

Click here for Application Instructions.

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

 Mailing of “Early Access” applications and SNAP or TA households HEAP Auto Pay is complete.

1. Early Access and SNAP or TA Auto Pay 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 2013 – 2014; Monthly Household Gross Income Cannot Exceed:

 

 

Household Size

 

Gross Monthly Income

 

1

$2,175

2

$2,844

3

$3,513

4

$4,182

5

$4,852

6

$5,521

7

$5,646

8

$5,772

9

$5,897

10

$6,023

11

$6,461

 

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

 Early Access:

Households that received HEAP last season and have a senior citizen, disabled individual, or child age 5 or younger may have received an Early Access application in September 2013.

The only documentation required for an early access application is copies of earned income, if any (last 4 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.

SNAP or TA Auto Pay:

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

Early Access and Auto-Pay eligibility notices will be mailed in December, and benefits should appear as a credit on December or January heating bills. HEAP can notify heating suppliers of these benefits beginning November 18, 2013. If necessary, the approval may restore service, or create a 30-day hold from termination of service, or result in a delivery of fuel.

2. Regular HEAP benefit:

Regular HEAP for household’s main source of heat is available beginning November 18, 2013.

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.
  • 30 day “hold” is placed on heat account if benefit is approved.
  • If there is a shut-off 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:

$400 base benefit

Natural Gas or Electric Heat

$600 base benefit

Deliverable fuel (i.e. oil, propane, kerosene)

$500 base benefit

Deliverable fuel (wood, coal, etc.)

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 vulnerable in the household – child age 5 or under OR an adult over the age of 60 OR disabled individual

“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: $25 if income is Tier I, and $20 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 2, 2014. 

One Emergency “Heat-Related” electricity benefit is available- IF there is a Shutoff notice and electric is needed to run furnace or thermostat, and is not main source of heat.

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.

There is a Resource Test for Emergency HEAP:

Emergency HEAP Benefit Amounts:

$400

Natural Gas Heat Only

$560

Electric Heat – PSC and municipal electric companies

$600

Deliverable Fuel (i.e. oil, propane, kerosene)

$500

Other Fuel (coal, wood, wood products)

$160

Heat Related Electric – PSC and municipal electric companies

4. How to Apply for HEAP: EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 18, 2013

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

**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.

5. Documentation Requirements for Regular HEAP:

If Household is receiving TA or SNAP:

Regular HEAP: Many Active TA or SNAP households have Regular HEAP calculated and sent to heating supplier automatically (Auto Pay). No application for Regular HEAP is required for these households. If Auto Pay is not received, a HEAP application must be submitted with a current utility bill. To check the status of an Auto Pay- HEAP Hotline 858-7644. To request a HEAP Application- Application Request Line: 858-1969. 

If Household is not receiving TA or SNAP & received HEAP assistance last season:

A completed and signed HEAP application & the following Documentation are required:

i. If paid weekly, last 4 paystubs

ii. If paid bi-weekly, last 2 paystubs

If Household is not receiving TA or SNAP & did not receive HEAP assistance last season:

A completed HEAP application and the following Photo-Copied Documentation are required:

6. Documentation Requirements for Emergency HEAP:

If Household received a Regular HEAP benefit this season:

    • Shut-off notice or statement of low fuel supply from company
    • Proof of all household liquid resources
    • 1 form of ID for any new household members (that were not listed on Regular HEAP application)

If Household did not receive a Regular benefit this season:

For main source of heat, no Emergency benefit is available until Regular benefit is exhausted.

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, etc.)

If Heat is included in rent

NOT eligible for HEAP assistance with heating costs

If Electric is included in rent

NOT eligible for HEAP assistance with electric costs

If Household pays directly for Heat

Eligible for Regular and Emergency HEAP towards heating bill (see above for benefit amounts) – “Heater’s Benefit”

If Household pays directly for “Heat Related Electric:**

Eligible for Emergency HEAP "heat related" electric benefits (see above)

8. Wage Calculation for HEAP Applications:

HEAP calculates all wages using these formulas:

Paid Weekly((4 x Weekly gross)/4) x 4.3333

Paid Bi-Weekly((2 x bi-weekly gross)/2) x 2.1666

Paid Bi-Monthly – (add 2 gross pay amounts- no other calculation)

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. HERR and other furnace Assistance, Weatherization Assistance Program, EmPower NY, Lifeline

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 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:

  1. Two (2) furnace estimates from participating HEAP contractors.
    1. Household may call any contractor they want for an estimate, but contractor must be a participating HEAP contractor in order to receive approval.
    2. A list of participating vendors is available at the 291 Pearl St. Intake window
    3. Clients should ask contractors whom they call if they participate with HEAP, and ask for a FREE estimate.

i. HEAP will not reimburse homeowner for cost of an estimate & all participating contractors are supposed to provide free estimates to HEAP applicants.

  1. Proof of homeownership- Deed to home
  2. Proof of household resources

a. Current checking and/or savings account statements, proof of any stock, bonds, CDs, IRAs, etc.

 

  1. 1 form of ID for all household members
  2. Proof of income for all household members received within last 30 days

 

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)

 

Weatherization Assistance:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telephone Discount:

 

 

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

 

 

 

“Care and Share” Electric Bill assistance:

Emergency Aid for Families through Erie County (EAF) – 478 Main Street 6th floor, Buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Medicaid

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

Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

The Medicaid Program in Erie County provides access to a variety of public health insurance programs including Medicaid, Family Health Plus (FHP), 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. Persons eligible for Family Health Plus must enroll in a managed care plan.

 

Applications - Eligibility Information

To obtain a Medicaid application, call 858-8000. Applications are also available at the Erie County Works Center - 158 Pearl Street [Rath Building].

To obtain information regarding eligibility for Medicaid or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, call the NYS Marketplace at 1-855-355-5777, or go online for information and an eligibility estimator at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

Information for Individuals with Active Medicaid Cases

Please contact our Medicaid Call Center at 858-6244

 

Links for further information

SNAP Benefits

Location:

Erie County Work Center

158 Pearl Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

 

Hours of Operation: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

 

How do I apply for SNAP Benefits?

To apply for SNAP Benefits, you must complete and submit an application. Application packets may be requested by phone by calling [716] 858-8000, by clicking on the link below, or requested in person at our office located at the:

Erie County Department of Social Services
158 Pearl Street 1st floor
Buffalo, New York 14202

Forms:

 

Changes to SNAP, effective Nov. 1, 2013

Monthly SNAP benefits for clients have decreased. This is because the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 - which had increased benefits as part of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) - expired Friday, November 1. The TFP amounts and SNAP benefit calculations will be affected by this change. The maximum reduction to the monthly SNAP benefit, according to household size, is outlined in the following chart:

 

Household Size

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Maximum Reduction to Monthly SNAP Benefit Due to the Federal ARRA TFP Decrease

$11

$20

$29

$36

$43

$52

$57

$65

Note:  For households of more than eight (8) people, add $8.00 to the amount of the reduction for each additional household member.

Some household exceptions to these reduction amounts include:

One- and two-person households whose October 2013 monthly SNAP benefit is the current minimum benefit for such households ($16); these households will have their benefit reduced to the new minimum benefit of $15.

The following figures indicate the maximum SNAP allotments an applicant can receive. Depending on income and circumstances, the amount an applicant can receive may be less than the amounts shown.

Household Size

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Maximum Allotment

$200

$367

$526

$668

$793

$952

$1,052

$1,202

Note:  For households of more than eight (8) people, add $150 to the amount of the reduction for each additional household member.

Fair Hearings and Work Experience Implications

Federal regulations dictate that there is no right to fair hearings to dispute the reduction to benefits resulting from the TFP reduction.

A reduction in SNAP benefits may also result in a reduction in the number of hours that an individual may be assigned to participate in work experience. The maximum number of hours an individual can be assigned to work experience is limited to the sum of the household’s public assistance benefit plus SNAP benefits divided by the higher of the federal or state minimum wage. Additionally, an individual is never required to participate in work experience or other work activities for more than 40 hours per week.

Districts must review cases with individuals who have been assigned to work experience and use the reduced SNAP benefits effective Nov. 1, 2013, to determine the maximum hours that a PA or SNAP recipient may be assigned to work experience.

The ARRA expiration will not affect the following areas: Federal Poverty Level amounts, the Standard Utility Allowances, SNAP Standard Deductions, the Homeless Shelter Deduction or Maximum Excess Shelter Deduction.

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.

 

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: