Program Description

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), also known as the Fuel Assistance Program, provides eligible households with help for winter heating bills. The program pays benefits up to a fixed amount based on several factors including household income. An additional benefit is available to eligible households having the lowest incomes and highest average energy costs through the High Energy Cost Supplement (HECS) Program. The Community Services Unit (CSU) within the Division of Community Services (DCS) has administrative oversight of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) funded program. The Fuel Assistance Program is operated locally by a network of 21 community based non-profit agencies and one municipal agency throughout 22 service areas across the Commonwealth under contract with CSU/DCS.

How It Works:

The Fuel Assistance Program is designed to assist low-income households with winter heating bills as a step towards financial stability. The program operates from November 1st to April 30th of each year. Local administering agencies determine household eligibility based on a number of factors including annualized income and household size. The agencies make payments for heating bills directly to the primary heating source vendor (e.g. oil, propane, gas or electric utility, wood or coal dealer) up to a fixed maximum benefit. Special provisions are made for households whose heat is included in their rent and/or who reside in publicly subsidized housing.

Who Is Eligible:

Households eligible for the Fuel Assistance Program include low-income homeowners and tenants with incomes up to 60% of the state median income.

Application Process:

The head of household must apply to the local administering agency each year. The agencies mail a recertification application to households determined eligible the previous year and the applicant is responsible for updating required information. First-time applicants must apply in person.

Provisions can be made for individuals with disabilities, including home visits when necessary. Applicants are responsible for providing several items including but not limited to current household income information, identification, verification of their address, and the name of their primary heat source vendor.


Household benefits range depending on income, historic energy use, and housing status. Actual benefit amounts vary from year to year dependent on federal funding and the anticipated number of applicants.

For More Information:

Please contact DHCD's Division of Community Services at 617-573-1400, or toll free at 1-800-632-8175.