Assistance with Paying Bills

Assistance with Paying Bills

Current Home Heating Assistance Programs

Dial 2-1-1 for more information on heating and other human services programs and help.

Earned Income Credit
Contact: U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service 800-829-3676 (for tax forms)
Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, or www.michigan.gov/treasury.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income, working individuals and families who meet certain requirements and file a tax return. Those who qualify will owe less in taxes and may get a refund. Even a person who does not generally owe income tax may qualify for the EITC, but must file a tax return to do so. If married, you must file jointly to qualify. File Form 1040 or 1040A and attach the EITC.

You may claim a Michigan earned income tax credit for tax year 2017 equal to a percentage of the federal earned income tax credit for which you are eligible. Visit the website or see the MI 2017 tax booklet for details.

Home Heating Credit
Contact: Michigan Department of Treasury, 517-636-4486, or www.michigan.gov/treasury

You can apply for a Home Heating Credit for the 2017 tax year if you:

  • meet the income guidelines listed below, or
  • you qualify based on alternate guidelines including household income, exemptions, and heating costs.

Additional exemptions are available for seniors, disabled claimants, or claimants with 5% or more of their income from unemployment compensation.

If you qualify, you may receive assistance to help pay for your winter heating bills. Forms are available in mid- to late-January wherever tax forms are provided, or from the Michigan Department of Treasury (517-636-4486, or www.michigan.gov/treasury.) The Home Heating Credit claim form must be filed with the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than September 30 each year.

Exemptions

Minimum Income

1

$13,271

2

$17,871

3

$22,471

4

$27,071

5

$31,671

6

$36,271

add $4,600 for each additional family member

Crisis Assistance Program 
Contact: Local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (county offices are listed in your local telephone book) or their website at michigan.gov/mdhhs.

State Emergency Relief Program (SER) michigan.gov/mdhhs:
You do not have to be a DHHS client to apply for help with a past due bill, shutoff notice, or the need for deliverable fuel through the SER. This program, available Nov. 1-May 31, provides most of its utility assistance during this crisis season. However, limited assistance is available outside the crisis season. If you receive a DHHS cash grant, you may vendor part of it towards heat and electric bills. Contact your local DHHS or call the Home Heating Hotline, 855-275-6424.

Low-Income Home Weatherization
Contact: Local Community Action Agency; visit mcaaa.org to find one in your area.

You may be able to receive help with weatherizing your home to reduce energy use if you meet low-income eligibility guidelines (200% of poverty guidelines) and funding is available. Weatherization may include caulking, weather-stripping, and insulation. Contact your local Community Action Agency for details.

MI Energy Assistance Program / United Way
Contact: Call 2-1-1 or UWmich.org/2-1-1

2-1-1 is a free phone service operating 24 hours daily to provide information about resources that may be available in a particular area to help with utilities and other needs. Learn more at UWmich.org/2-1-1.

Agency assistance through Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) includes services that will enable participants to become self-sufficient, including assisting participants in paying their energy bills on time, budgeting for and contributing to their ability to provide for energy expenses, and being energy efficient. Shut-off protection is provided Nov. 1–April 15 for all residential customers.

Medical Emergency Protection
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

You are protected from service shut-off for non-payment of your electric bill for up to 21 days, possibly extended to 63 days, if you have a proven medical emergency. You must provide written proof from a doctor, public health or social services official that a medical emergency exists.

Shut-off Protection for Military Active Duty
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

If you or your spouse has been called into active military duty, you may apply for shut-off protection from your electric service for up to 90 days. You may request extensions. You will still be required to pay, but we will help you set up a payment plan.

Michigan Veterans Trust Fund Emergency Grant Program
Contact: 517-284-5299 or michiganveterans.com

The Trust Fund provides temporary assistance to veterans and their families facing a financial emergency or hardship, including the need for energy assistance.

Winter Protection Plan
Contact: HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative at 800-562-8232

The Winter Protection Plan protects eligible seniors and low-income customers from service shut-offs and high utility bill payments during the winter months (Nov. 1 – March 31). You may enroll between Nov. 1 and March 31. If you are an eligible low-income customer, your utility service will remain on (or be restored with the WPP) from Nov. 1-March 31, if you:

  • pay at least 7% of your estimated annual bill each month, and
  • make equal monthly payments between the date you apply and the start of the next heating season on any past due bills.

When the protection period ends (March 31), you must begin to pay the full monthly bill, plus part of the amount you owe from the winter months when you did not pay the full bill. Participation does not relieve customers from the responsibility of paying for electricity use, but does prevent shut-off during winter months. You qualify for the plan if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • you are age 65 or older,
  • you receive Department of Human Services cash assistance, including SSI,
  • you receive Food Assistance,
  • you receive Medicaid, or
  • your household income is at or below the 150% of poverty level shown in the Income Guidelines chart below.

Senior citizen customers (65 or older) who participate in the Winter Protection Plan are not required to make specific payments to ensure that your service will not be shut off between Nov. 1 and March 31. However, you are encouraged to pay whatever you can during the winter so you will not have large, unmanageable bills when the protection period ends. Service for seniors can be restored without any payments between November 1 and March 31.

Number In
Household

150% Poverty Guide
Maximum Income 2017-2018

1

$18,090

2

$24,360

3

$30,630

4

$36,900

5

$43,170

6

$49,440

7

$55,710

8

$61,980

Add $6,270 for each additional member.

Note: All senior citizens 65+ are eligible regardless of income. Customers are responsible for all electricity used. At the end of the protection period, participants in the plan must make arrangements with HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative to pay off any money owed before the next heating season.

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