Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who is eligible for energy assistance?
Renters, homeowners, residents of public housing, sub-metered homes (where you pay another company, not the utility directly), Roomers/Boarders are all eligible for Energy Assistance grants.
The most important factors in determining who is eligible for energy assistance are the size of your household and how much money ou made in the last 30 days. Our income eligibility guidelines are below:
|Income Eligibility Limits
Effective July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021
(Based on 175% of the Federal Poverty Level)
|Household Size||Maximum Gross Monthly Income Standards|
|For Each Additional Person, Add||$654|
Q. How Can I apply?
Due to COVID 19 restrictions, many Energy Assistance offices are closed to walk-in customers to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff. If you need to apply for Energy Assistance, you do not need to submit your application in person, there are other ways to submit your application safely.
- You can apply online by visiting: https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us
- Remember to upload all of your documents along with your application.
- Submitting your documents separately from your online application will delay your application
Many Energy Assistance offices, particularly in Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County where the virus has hit the hardest, have secure drop boxes available to receive your application and documents.
- First, download and print the Application for Energy Assistance. You can also request a paper application by calling 1-800-332-6347.
- Next, complete your application and gather your documents. You can find a list of documents that you should include in your application by here: Instructions Form
- Once you have your completed application and documents, take them to your local office’s drop box and submit them.
- Baltimore City residents should drop applications at the nearest CAP Center. For a list of locations, click here: https://www.bmorechildren.com/cap/#location
To apply by mail, you can request an application be mailed to you, or print a copy of the application and mail it, along with all of your documents to your local Energy Assistance office. To see a full list of locations please visit:
Energy Assistance offices can accept applications over the phone. However, you will need to email or mail your documents to the local office after your information has been taken. Energy assistance does not need documents to be scanned, we can accept clear pictures of your documents where text is visible.
Since many of our offices also process applications for other social services programs (Food Stamps, TCA, etc), it may take a while to get an in-person appointment. However, due to local COVID-19 restrictions, some offices are not offering appointments. Call your local office to see if they are scheduling appointments.
Q. What do I need to apply?
OHEP provides assistance to help you afford your energy bills. The benefit provided is based on your household income, how many people live in your household, and how much energy your household uses. To determine your benefit, OHEP needs information to prove:
- Your identity: We can accept any government-issued photo ID
- Who lives in your household: We will need social security cards or other federal government-issued documents (like a W-2 or Social Security Benefits Notice) with name and Social Security Name. Includes children living in the household.
- Your utility/heating information: we will need a copy of your utility bill and your heating bill (if you use things like oil, wood, or propane as the main way you heat your home)
- Your household’s income: We will need documentation of all income for everyone in your household. Documents can include: paystubs, social security award letters, pension statements, award letters for programs such as TCA and TDAP
- For a full list of documents we can accept, please visit:
Q. Can Energy Assistance help with an old bill?
Energy Assistance can help you pay down an outstanding balance on your current electricity or heating bill. While we are not able to help with closed accounts, we are able to help with costs necessary to start or continue your electric or heating service.
Q. Will my payment plan affect my Energy Assistance?
No. The Office of Home Energy Programs works closely with all Maryland utilites and heating companies to make sure our team is getting the most up-to-date balances on every applicant’s account. Your payment plan will not prevent you from receiving the full benefit you qualify for.
Q. Do I need to wait for a turn off notice?
No! Do not wait until you have a turn off notice to apply! We can help prevent you from receiving a turn off notice if you apply before you receive one.
Q. How can my benefits be used?
Energy Assistance grants can be used to pay for:
- Electric and/or natural gas
- Heating Oil
- Wood pellets
- Kerosene (if that is how you heat your home)
Q. Can I give you some of my paperwork now, and the rest later?
Submitting an application without all of your documents will slow down the application process significantly. For the quickest service, please include all of your documents when you submit your application, no matter how you submit your application.
Q. Does the utility automatically know I have applied to Energy Assistance?
Unfortunately, utilities do not automatically know that you are applying for Energy Assistance. Utilities are notified that you are working with Energy Assistance when we place a hold on your account or commit to paying certain amounts to your account.
Q. My utilities are included in my rent, do I still qualify?
Yes! You can receive Energy Assistance benefits no matter what your situation is. If you are responsible for paying for your energy and heating costs, you are eligible for energy assistance.
Q. How do I check the status of my application?
Visit https://myohepstatus.org to see the status of your application. Since this site is updated when your local office has started working on your application, please allow 15 days for your application to show up on the site. You can also call the DHS call center or local office for updated information.
Q. How long will it be until I receive my benefits?
Every application is different because every household is different. If there are issues with the documents you provided with your application, there will be a delay as your local office tries to contact you. We are required to:
- Review your application and documents within 14 days after we receive a complete application (this includes all supporting documents so if you do not submit all of your documents with your application, this 14 day clock will not start until we get everything from you)
- Process and make a final determination about your application within 45 days of receiving your full application packet.
Please understand that this year we will receive more applications than we have in the past, so some processing delays are expected in highly populated areas.
Q. Where can I drop off my application?
All OHEP offices have secured drop-boxes to receive your application. You can find your local office by visiting: https://dhs.maryland.gov/office-of-home-energy-programs/local-home-energy-program-office/
Q. Are your offices open for walk-in appointments?
Some of our local offices are currently accepting walk-in appointments. However because Maryland is still dealing with COVID-19, offices may be forced to close if there is a diagnosed case of COVID-19 among staff or recent visitors.
Always call ahead to your local office to find out their process for handing in-person applications.
Q. Where do I apply?
You can apply for Energy Assistance online or by contacting your local Energy Assistance office. A full list of offices can be found on our website: https://dhs.maryland.gov/office-of-home-energy-programs/local-home-energy-program-office/
Q. Can I apply in another county to get faster service?
Your energy assistance application must be processed by your local office. If you submit your application to another office in another county, it will cause a delay in processing your application as it is sent to the right office. Your application will only be processed when the application was received by the correct office in your local jurisdiction.
Q. Why is my energy bill so high?
There are a lot of reasons why your bill may be high since every home is different, some common reasons for high bills are:
- You may use a lot of energy
- There may be a lot of people in your
- You may be paying off old balances on your account
- Your home may be drafty or have other problems which allow the warm or cool air from your home to escape
- Your heat or air conditioning may be too high or too low depending on the season.
- One of your major appliances (ex: refrigerator, air conditioner, heater, washer, dryer) may not be functioning properly.
You can find out more about what is driving up your energy bill by checking your bill each month. Most utility companies show you how much energy you’re using each month on your bill, with many providing periodic reports for when you use energy the most.
If you are worried that your bill is high because your home is drafty, make sure you choose the “Energy Efficiency for Your Home– DHCD Efficiency Programs” on your Energy Assistance application.
Q. How do I get my service turned on again?
Call your local OHEP office to request an application and call your utility to discuss the status of your account. When you speak with the local OHEP office, tell them that your electric has been turned off.
You may need additional resources to restore electric service if Energy Assistance grants are not enough. You may have to work with your utility to make additional arrangements to pay the remaining balance on your account. In light of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, all Maryland utility companies are offering payment plans for a minimum or 12 months, or for up to 24 months if you receive Energy Assistance.
If Energy Assistance alone cannot have your service turned back on, you may be eligible additional resources to pay off your energy bill:
- Emergency grants from Social Services
- Local Fuel Funds
- Local faith-based community resources
- Other sources identified by assisting agencies
Q. Does Energy Assistance pay the whole bill?
Certain benefits can significantly reduce or eliminate old balances on your account and lower your bill moving forward. Benefits will not necessarily cover your entire bill.
Q. How will you contact me about my application?
We will send you letters if we need information from you and to let you know the final status of your application. Some offices may also call you to ask for more information about your application.
Q. What is a household?
“Household” means an individual or group of individuals who are living together as one unit and for whom residential energy is customarily purchased in common or who make undesignated payments for energy in the form of rent.
Q. What income is included in determining eligibiity for energy assistance?
Income eligibility is based on all gross (before taxes and other deductions) income received by everyone in the household over the age of 18 during the 30 days preceding the date of application. Income for full-time students is not counted as income if the student’s full-time status is documented.
If an applicant receives income monthly from SSI, SSA, wages or a pension, but the income is received within the month, but not received within 30 days, the income is still counted. Example: If the employee applies on April 1st and the last paycheck was received on March 1st, that paycheck is counted.
Q. How do I document my income if I am self-employed?
Your most recent tax form Schedule SE is the best and easiest way to document your income if you are self-employed. Your income reported on the Schedule SE will be divided by 12 to get your 30-day income. In addition to the tax form, self-employed individuals must also complete and sign the Income Verification of Self-Employment Form
If you have not paid taxes but are self-employed, your income must still be documented. You can provide weekly, monthly and/or quarterly books/statements, ledgers, sales slips, cancelled checks, invoices, bank statements/deposits for the last 30 days.
Q. What if I do not have income for the 30 days before my application?
All household members 18 and over who claim zero income was received for the last 30-day application period must complete a Declaration of Zero Income form. A Household Worksheet must be completed to document how your household is meeting basic needs during the time of having no income. If it is indicated on the Household Worksheet that someone is assisting you in meeting the household’s basic needs a Resource Provider Statement must be completed.
Q. What is the Utility Service Protection Program, or USPP?
The Utility Service Protection Program (USPP) protects low-income families from utility cut-off and allows MEAP eligible households to enter into a year-round even monthly payment program with their utility company. An equal monthly payment plan based on the estimated cost of the customer’s average annual utility usage minus the MEAP benefits will be used to determine the even monthly payments for participation in the USPP.
Q. I received an arrearage grant before, am I eligible for another?
Arrearage Retirement Assistance benefits (the grants we use to pay off past-due balances) can only be received once per seven year period. Households that contain vulnerable members may be eligible to receive the benefits again if the household has:
- a household member that is at least 65 years of age; or
- a household member that is under that age of 2; or
- a household member that is medically fragile; and
- The previously received benefit is less than $800; and
- Your current past-due balance is over $300
If you apply for an Arrearage Retirement grant before, your local Energy Assistance Office will automatically review your application to see if you are eligible to receive this benefit again.