Heating-assistance program changes

The Cabarrus County Department of Social Services will begin accepting applications in December for its annual Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.

Because the state has realigned several social service programs, LIEAP is now targeted specifically to elderly adults with low incomes who need assistance with heating costs during cold weather.

Among the changes to the program:

The application period begins Dec. 1 (a month later than last year) and is extended to two months instead of 12 days. The period runs through Jan. 31, or as long as money is available.

All members of a household must be 60 or older.

Food-stamp recipients no longer will be automatically approved for the program. They must apply during the regular application period.

Income limits to be eligible for energy assistance have increased by about 16 percent since last year. The income limit is $1,180 for a one-person household, $1,594 for two, $2,009 for three, $2,422 for four, $2,835 for five and $3,250 for six people.

Households eligible for energy assistance will no longer receive a check. All payments will be made directly to the vendor providing the household's primary heating source.

If money is still available after January, all other households meeting the income requirements may apply for LIEAP during the general application period, Feb. 1-March 31.

Low-income individuals and families with household members of any age who require energy assistance also may apply for the Crisis Intervention Program. This program will begin when low temperatures create a crisis situation for those with heating needs. This program is for heating emergencies only. There is a limit to the amount of CIP assistance a single household may receive.

Applications for energy assistance may be made 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays at Cabarrus County Department of Social Services, 1303 S. Cannon Blvd., Kannapolis.

Eligibility will be determined by income for the month before the date of application. Everyone who applies must bring verification of income, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for all household members, plus as a copy of their primary heating source bill.

Anyone who believes they are in a crisis situation should contact the Department of Social Services at 704-920-1400 or go to the office 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.