By Jim Donovan:   Even though it’s been a very mild winter there are a lot of people in our region that are still struggling to pay their heating bills.  With that in mind, I just learned that The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has extended the application deadline for people to apply for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).  The state will now accept applications through April 13, 2012.   LIHEAP was originally scheduled to close on March 30, 2012.

You should be aware that over the past few weeks we’ve heard of complaints that the state is working on a backlog of LIHEAP applications.   Two weeks ago PGW and PECO told us that there was a backlog of nearly 50,000 applications.  At the time a welfare department spokeswoman said she didn’t know the cause of the backlog, but that the department had added staff to clear it up.

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Since the LIHEAP program began taking applications last November, it has received 533,626 applications for cash assistance to help low-income households pay for home heating fuel. It has also received 89,821 applications for crisis grants, which assist with heating emergencies such as a furnace failure or unexpected fuel shortages.

In February, Pennsylvania received an additional $52.3 million in federal funding for LIHEAP, which brought the Commonwealth’s total to $209.5 million for the current LIHEAP season, which began last November 1. The average LIHEAP grant is $240 and the maximum Crisis grant is $300.

Cash grants are based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel used. 

Apply for a LIHEAP grant online at; residents can also apply in-person at county assistance offices. You may also call the statewide toll-free hotline at 1-866-857-7095  with questions about the program. 

 Household sizes and income limits for LIHEAP’s 2011-12 season are listed below.

 1 person — $16,335 maximum income

2 people — $22,065 maximum income

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3 people — $27,795 maximum income

4 people — $33,525 maximum income

5 people — $39,255 maximum income

6 people — $44,985 maximum income

7 people — $50,715 maximum income

8 people — $56,445 maximum income

9 people — $62,175 maximum income

10 people — $67,905 maximum income

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 (For each additional person, add $5,730)