Posts Tagged ‘utility’

In the aftermath of Sandy

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

In the aftermath of Sandy

Many New Jerseyans were affected by Hurricane Sandy, a number of them seniors. In the past two weeks since then we’ve seen many images of destruction and heard many stories of days without power.

If you are still in need of assistance as you recover from the damage Sandy left behind, here are some important numbers and websites to know:

Dial 2-1-1 or visit www.nj211.org to find out about local resources for food, shelter, transportation, etc.

If you need disaster assistance, apply for FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov Please know that there are deadlines to requesting help and that you need to reach out to FEMA directly, they will not contact you.

Your local chapter of the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/find-help) and the Salvation Army (http://www.use.salvationarmy.org) can also be of assistance.

If you or someone you know needs help coping with the trauma from the Hurricane you can contact the NJ Disaster Mental Health Hotline 1-877-294-4357.

There have been many reports about the help being offered to Hurricane Sandy victims. Countless organizations and individuals have provided, shelter, food, heat, clothing and comfort to those affected. Unfortunately, during times of disaster, we see some people who would rather take advantage of the situation rather than help. Please be on the look out for scams.

One, price gouging is illegal, to report it call (862) 209-0130 or (973) 220-3474.

There have been a couple of instances of people posing as utility or inspection personnel and then attempting to rob the home once they gain entry. Anyone approaching your home as a utility worker or inspector should have proper ID and have no problem showing it to you or verifying the reason for their visit. Don’t let anyone into your home that you are not 100% sure is who they say they are. Make sure to call the police and report any false attempts to gain access to your home.

There may also be people posing as false insurance programs or other assistance programs. Please make sure to always ask for proper ID and verify that the program or services they are offering are legitimate. Report any problems to your local police department.

And for those of you looking for ways to help, be aware of that there are also scammers posing as charities . The IRS has issued a statement encouraging people to look out for scam artists impersonating charities to help Hurricane Sandy victims. Donate to recognized charities only. Some will even try to use a name similar to a recognized organization so be sure to look closely. Do not give out personal information. There are various ways that these scammers will try to reach you, they may call on the phone, by email or through the use of a phony website set up to mimic that of a known charity. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.

Call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number, 1-866-562-5227, if you are a hurricane victim with specific questions about tax relief or disaster related tax issues.

If you would like to volunteer to help those affected by Sandy, you can also contact your local Red Cross or Salvation Army or call the NJ Volunteer Emergency Response Hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397)

Recovering from Sandy will be a lengthy process. You may have long wait times for responses from disaster assistance programs, but know that help is coming.

Heat and Energy Assistance

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

According to the federal government (US Energy Information Administration), heating bills are expected to increase slightly this season compared to last winter. Those who heat their homes with oil can expect to see an average of about $220 or 12% more this winter. Those households that heating with natural gas are expected to spend an average of $27 or 4 % more. While those heating their homes with electricity can expect to spend an average of $18 r 2% more than last winter.

For those who need assistance the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP is now available for the coming winter season. LIHEAP is designed to help low-income families and individuals meet home heating and medically necessary cooling costs. This year, the application period is November 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012.  To apply for LIHEAP, contact the authorized local community action agency or community based organization in your area.  A list of these agencies is found at www.energyassistance.nj.gov.  For persons age 60 or over, or who are disabled, applications may be received and returned by mail.  Other households may apply by mail at the discretion of the local agency. People who participated in LIHEAP last year will receive a recertification form in the mail to renew assistance through this program.

To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, the applicant household must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, either directly or included in the rent; and have gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.  The chart below gives specific monthly gross income maximums for FFY 2012.  Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they pay for their own heating/cooling costs directly to the fuel supplier.  The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region.  This year, the medically necessary cooling assistance benefit is set at $160.

For further information on LIHEAP or to locate the nearest application agency, call 1-800-510-3102.  Additional information about LIHEAP, including an application, is also available at www.energyassistance.nj.gov.

  LIHEAP

MAXIMUM MONTHLY GROSS INCOME ELIGIBILITY LEVELS
FFY 2012

Household

Size

USF

Program

LIHEAP

Program

1 $1,589 $1,815
2  $2,146 $2,452
3 $2,703 $3,089
4 $3,260 $3,725
5 $3,817 $4,362
6 $4,374 $4,999
7 $4,931 $5,635
8 $5,488 $6,272
9 $6,045 $6,909
10 $6,602 $7,333
11 $7,159 $7,485
12 $7,716 $7,638
If more than 12, add: $557 for each person $153 for each person

 If you are above the following income guidelines, but still need assistance with your heating or energy bills you may be eligible for assistance through NJ Shares. NJ SHARES provides energy assistance to moderate and fixed-income households experiencing a financial crisis. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Their clients are families and individuals who do not qualify for Federal and State assistance programs due to the household’s income. NJ SHARES Grant amounts can be up to $700 for heating source (gas, oil, propane and electric heat), and can be up to $300 for electric service. Grants must result in continuance and/or restoration of service. Applicants must demonstrate a temporary financial need and a history of good-faith payments to their energy provider.

 Eligibility Guidelines

 Applicants Must:

  • Reside in New Jersey
  • Be experiencing a financial crisis, such as a job loss or illness
  • Be behind on their energy bill, or need a fuel delivery
  • Have income over the limit for Federal programs such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and state programs such as the Universal Service Fund (USF).
  • Have an income level that does not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Have made a good-faith payment of $100 or more within 90 days of applying for NJ SHARES (for gas and electric customers; deliverable fuel customers are excluded from this rule)

Guidelines for Seniors and the Disabled:

  • Applicants 65 years of age or older, with households of one or two members, will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the maximum household income is $80,000 annually or $6,666 monthly. Proof of age is required.
  • Applicants receiving Federal Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, with households of one or two members, will be eligible for NJ SHARES if the maximum household income is $80,000 annually or $6,666 monthly. Applicants must show proof of Federal SSD benefit.

 Required Documentation for NJ SHARES applications:

  • Documents should be furnished to the intake agency at time of application.

1) Proof of Income (last four consecutive weeks prior to application date)

2) Proof of Identification

3) Most Recent Energy Bill