Help With Winter Heating Costs

Although Colorado has experienced a very mild fall, many of us will soon be turning on our furnace as we experience cooler temperatures. For some people, heating our home in the winter can be very expensive.

Starting November 1, 2016 and running through April 30, 2017, individuals whose monthly income is less than $1634 per month ($2203 for a couple) may qualify for help with utilities through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). LEAP does not have an asset or resource test.

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Individuals who are renters or home owners and who pay utilities either directly to a utility company or as part of the rent are eligible for LEAP. Individuals who only pay a percentage of their income for rent, such as those living in subsidized housing, may not be eligible for LEAP.

Individuals must prove legal residence of Colorado and legal identity. Usually this can be done by providing a copy of a driver’s license or Colorado ID, a military ID, or Native American tribal documents.

You will also need to provide proof of all income for the previous month. This can be done by providing copies of pay stubs; letters from Social Security for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Social Security Retirement; pension income including VA pensions; and any other source of income.

Renters who pay their utilities as part of the rent, should also provide a copy of their lease to prove that utilities are included in the rent.

To apply, individuals need to submit the application to the county department of human services in the county in which they live, along with the appropriate documentation. Most counties require that the form be submitted by fax, mail or in-person. There are a few counties that will accept the form by e-mail. Applications usually take between 10-25 days to process.

If you have a shut-off notice from your utility company, you may qualify for extra help by calling 1-800-HEAT-HELP. LEAP is not meant to pay your total heating bill. It only pays a portion of the total cost.

Individuals who receive LEAP may also be eligible for weatherization. Weatherization can help with such costs as replacement furnaces, refrigerator replacement, insulation, storm doors and windows and other improvements to your home to improve energy efficiency. To see if you might qualify for help, call 303-333-3482 and ask for the phone number of the company serving your county. Some renters can use receive weatherization as well.

Individuals who are 65 and over and/or disabled may also be eligible to receive assistance with utilities from the Property Tax/Rent/Heat Rebate, commonly called the PTC 104. To receive this benefit, your annual income must be less than $12,953 for a single person ($17,460 for a married couple). There is no resource requirements. You apply for this benefit through the Colorado Department of Revenue. This benefit is available to renters as well as a home owners.

Residents who are 65 and over or disabled and who are home owners or renters of the City and County of Denver may also qualify for an additional tax/rent credit through the Payment to the Elderly Program if their annual income is less than $15,900 for single person or $23,000 for a married couple. There is no resource requirements.

You can obtain these forms online, as well as the address to which they should be mailed. If you need a copy of any of the applications, assistance with completing the forms, or help submitting knowing where to submit the applications, call a counselor at 303-333-3482 or 1-855-880-4777.

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About the Author

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS has been the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society since 1982. She has more than 40 years of experience in education and training, advocacy, clinical practice, and research in the field of gerontology. She is an adjunct instructor at Fort Hays State University teaching non-profit management. She can be reached at 303-333-3482 or at doherty001@att.net.