Review of Selected Aspects of Low Income Energy Assistance

HRD-80-120: Published: Sep 15, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the 1980 Low Income Energy Assistance (LIEA) Program, with particular concentration on the Special Energy Allowance payments to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. GAO also examined the energy assistance payments to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients.

The 1980 LIEA program established categorical eligibility for participants in the SSI program. States were given the option of also paying an energy allowance to AFDC recipients on a categorical basis. Payments were made to SSI recipients without regard to their living arrangements or responsibilities for energy costs. Energy assistance payments were made to: (1) more than one individual living at the same residence; (2) individuals living in subsidized housing who were not responsible for home heating costs; and (3) individuals in certain group living facilities where the extent of increased energy costs for heating, or their responsibility for these costs, was not clear. The recently enacted 1981 LIEA program and regulations published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) address most of the problems under the 1980 program. The 1981 program will be administered by States according to their plan, as approved by HHS. Payments can only be made to, or on behalf of, eligible households rather than individuals to offset the rising costs of home energy that are excessive in relation to household income.

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