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Coloradans struggling to pay home heating costs still have time to apply for leap benefits

By Michele Worthington
Special to The PREVIEW

Colorado residents behind on home heating bills still have time to apply for help. The Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) encourages Coloradans in need of financial assistance with home heating bills to take advantage of the program and apply for LEAP benefits before the April 30 deadline.

LEAP is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The program pays the highest benefits to those with the highest heating bills and lowest incomes by family size. Applicant income cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $2,944 per month for a household of four people. The average LEAP benefit is estimated to be $440 per household.

To date, LEAP has helped nearly 85,000 Colorado households with their heating bills. However, there are still thousands eligible for the program that have yet to apply.

LEAP has several eligibility requirements. Applicants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal aliens. They also need to provide a copy of a valid identification and a completed affidavit to comply with Colorado Revised Statues regarding documentation of lawful presence. Valid forms of I.D. include a Colorado driver’s license or I.D. card; a U.S. Military I.D. card or Military Dependent’s I.D. card; a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card; or a Native American Tribal document. Other forms of I.D. may be accepted as well. Applicants also must be responsible for paying heating costs, either directly to a utility company or to a landlord as part of rent.

People interested in applying can call (866) 432-8435 to order a mailed application. Alternatively, applications are available at every county department of social or human services, most utility companies and many community agencies, like Catholic Charities. Applications also can be downloaded from www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.

People eligible for LEAP may also qualify for other benefits, like the Crisis Intervention Program, which helps repair or replace the home’s primary heating system, or the Weatherization Program, which improves energy efficiency in homes.

Colorado also offers a rebate of property tax, rent and heat expenses to low-income seniors and disabled persons. Known as the Property Tax/Rent/Heat Credit (PTC) rebate, the maximum property tax rebate is $660 and the maximum heat expenses rebate is $192. The Colorado Department of Revenue administers the rebate.

Please visit http://www.colorado.gov/cs/satellite/revenue/revx/1216116072809 for more information and the rebate application booklet.

To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call toll free (866) HEAT-HELP or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements.

This story was posted on April 24, 2014.