The bitter cold stretch that recently gripped South Dakota required families to use more energy to stay warm. For families struggling to pay winter heating bills, the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) may be able to help.

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) helps vulnerable South Dakota families stay safe and warm by assisting with home heating expenses. LIEAP is a federally funded program administered by DSS.

“When winter temperatures drop dangerously low, it’s critical for South Dakota families to keep the house warm,” said Laurie Gill, DSS Cabinet Secretary. “However, the cost of that heat can put a major strain on low-income families’ finances. There are eligibility requirements, but some families do qualify for financial help.”

Eligibility and assistance amounts are based on the number of people in your home, income of all residents, type of heating, and where you live. If you qualify, the payment is made directly to your energy supplier. Eligible heating sources include coal, electric, fuel oil, natural gas, propane, and wood. Energy assistance funds are paid on a first come first serve basis. Last year, qualifying customers received an average annual benefit of $648.

What are the family income parameters?“The LIEAP income limit is 200% of the federal poverty level,” said Gill of S.D. DSS. The federal poverty level for 2021 is an annual income of $12,880 for one person; add $4,540 for each additional person in the household.

In your opinion, did Covid affect the 2020 year?“Statewide we anticipate an increase in LIEAP eligible households. Hughes and Stanley County numbers are projected to be similar to last year. Colder weather and energy prices may also influence LIEAP trends,” said Gill. “Nine out of 10 households assisted by LIEAP include at least one elderly person, child, or person with a disability.”

Nationally, last year had an average annual amount of $648 per household.

Individuals and families can apply for Energy Assistance by:

Call toll-free at 1-800-233-8503

E-mail LIEAPApp@state.sd.us to either request an application or to submit a completed application

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