Energy assistance program gives financial boost

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on January 05, 2012 with No Comments

After facing a bumpy financial start to the Energy Assistance Program, we now expect to be able to help as many individuals as last year. Our allocation amount has continued to increase as the state has made available additional funds to help those in need.

We were able to help 2,100 individuals during our last winter season, a number we are striving to hit again. State officials have also adjusted the scale so we will be able to reach more individuals by spreading out our pool of money even further.

The program is structured to help individuals who are struggling to pay their energy bills and qualification for assistance is based on income levels. Energy Assistance is an income-eligible program as well as a program to help seniors and individuals with disabilities.

When participants qualify for a determined amount, the payment is electronically paid to the appropriate energy company. Participants do not need to have a disconnect notice to receive assistance.

Because of the infusion of funds from the state, we are no longer restricting appointments and we encourage those who need assistance to contact us to set up a time to come to our office. Our appointments are on a first-come, first-serve basis and we will accommodate walk-ins based on need.

With three volunteers and Energy Assistance coordinator Marilyn Lindner manning the phones, we ask for callers to have patience as they may not get through on the first or even second try. The time-sensitive nature of the program creates a focused demand that we strive to handle as efficiently as possible.

In order to expedite the application process, we urge individuals to understand what documents are needed before they come in for their appointment.

“Call or stop in the office to get a list of what documents are necessary to complete the application process and then make sure you have all of them with you when you go to PCACS to make your application,” Marilyn said.

In order to apply for assistance, individuals will need a recent energy bill that is in the applicants’ name, but it does not have to be a disconnect notice. They will also need Social Security cards for everyone in the household and proof of income from all sources for household members over 18.

If applicants are renting, they need to have a Landlord Affidavit completed. This form is available at the trustee offices in Portage, Chesterton and Hebron and at PCACS on our Web page, www.portercountyacs.org. Additional documents may be needed for some circumstances and we can identify these before the appointment.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding out what documents you need for your appointment. One issue that has surfaced is the need for original documents. While you may have received assistance in the past and provided your Social Security card before, state rules require that we see the original document every season.

Year after year, we see the value of the Energy Assistance Program as it helps members of our own community and we work to provide as smooth of an avenue as possible to obtain this assistance.

To make an appointment or to receive details of the application process, call PCACS at 219-464-9736.

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About Bruce Lindner

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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