FAA5.I Determining Benefits : 03 Expenses : D NA Utility Expenses and Allowances
NA Utility Expenses and Allowances
Information on this page refers to the Nutrition Assistance program
The NA budgetary unit is allowed a utility allowance based on the budgetary unit's obligation to pay utility expenses.
Policy
The utility expenses billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments on a regular basis are used to determine the allowable utility allowance for the NA budgetary unit. A utility allowance amount is used to allow a standard amount in place of the actual utility expenses. The utility allowance is also used to calculate the shelter deduction.
The amount of the utility allowance is determined by all of the following:
An obligation to pay allowable utility expenses
Verified allowable utility expenses
The size of the NA budgetary unit
NOTE Participants who are disqualified are included when determining the size of the NA budgetary unit; however, household members not receiving benefits are not included when determining the size of the budgetary unit.
Budgetary units billed separately for utility expenses are allowed one of the following utility allowances:
Standard Utility Allowance (SUA)
The budgetary unit is eligible for SUA when any of the following is met:
Obligated to pay a heating or cooling expense separately from rent or mortgage on a regular basis. (See Example 1)
NOTE The budgetary unit may use the utility for only heating or for only cooling. See Standard Utility Allowance Expenses for the type of expenses that are considered heating or cooling sources.
Receive Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments. (See Example 2)
The heating or cooling expenses exceed the other Energy Assistance payments. (See Example 3)
Limited Utility Allowance (LUA)
The budgetary unit is eligible for LUA when obligated to pay at least two non-heating or non-cooling utility expenses. (See Example 4)
NOTE When determining eligibility for LUA, a telephone expense can be used as one of the two non-heating or non-cooling expenses
Telephone Utility Allowance (TUA)
The budgetary unit is eligible for TUA when they have the obligation to pay only a telephone expense.
NOTE When utility expenses are claimed for more than one residence in the same month, only one utility allowance is allowed.
(See Utility Allowance Current Amount for the current utility allowance amount)
Standard Utility Allowance Expenses
Any of the following utility expenses are considered heating sources when used to provide heat for the home:
Electricity
Gas or propane
Coal, wood, or oil
Any of the following are considered cooling sources:
Central air conditioners
Evaporative coolers
Room air conditioners
The costs for any of the following supplemental sources of heating or cooling do not qualify for the SUA:
Electric blankets
Fans
Heat lamps
Water for evaporative coolers
Heating or cooling equipment maintenance
Chimney maintenance
Equipment for cutting wood (i.e. chainsaws, chainsaw maintenance, axe)
Shared Utilities
The budgetary unit is entitled to a utility allowance based on utility expenses verified when either situation occurs:
More than one budgetary unit lives in the same residence and shares utility expenses.
One budgetary unit shares a housing unit with others who do not receive NA.
A utility allowance is allowed regardless of the percentage of the utilities paid.
When one budgetary unit pays the expense and receives a fixed monthly amount from another budgetary unit for utilities, each budgetary unit is allowed a utility allowance.
When budgetary units that incur utility expenses live in separate housing units (house, apartment, trailer, etc.) and share a meter with each other, each budgetary unit with an obligation to pay is entitled to a utility allowance.
NOTE This situation is common when two separate housing units are located on the same property or when the homeowner rents out a separate apartment within their residence.
Allowable NA Utility Expense Types
See the following for more information on the allowable utility expenses for NA:
Coal
Oil
Wood
Coal
The cost of coal used as a utility, billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments, is allowable.
When coal is used to produce heat, the budgetary unit is eligible for SUA.
Electricity
Electricity service expenses billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments, are allowable.
When electricity is used to produce heating or cooling, the budgetary unit is eligible for SUA.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
ERAP assist budgetary units that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ERAP payments are either paid directly to the participant or to the utility company.
Participants may have some or all of their utilities paid by ERAP. Budgetary units that are eligible for ERAP are eligible for a utility expense.
Energy Assistance Utility Expense
Participants may have some or all of their utilities paid with Energy Assistance, previously known as negative rent, when one of the following applies:
They live in public housing and their rent is zero
They live in Section 8 Project based Rental Housing
They are recipients of a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
Energy Assistance payments are either paid to the participant or directly to the utility company as a vendor payment.
When the Energy Assistance payment covers all of the participant’s utilities, both of the following apply:
The NA budgetary unit does not qualify for the utility allowance because they have no out of pocket utility expense.
When the payment is more than the utility expense, the remaining amount may be considered income. (See Energy Assistance Payments when the payment is more than the utility expense.)
When the payment is less than the utility expense, the budgetary unit is eligible for a utility allowance.
When the budgetary unit has utility expenses and receives Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments, the budgetary unit qualifies for SUA even when the payment covers all expenses or is paid as a vendor payment.
Garbage, Sewer, and Trash
The following utility expenses billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments, are allowable:
Garbage
Sewer
Trash
Portable toilet rental when no bathroom exists
Septic maintenance
Gas or Propane
Gas, propane, and propane tank rental utility expenses billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments, are allowable.
When gas or propane is used as a fuel to produce heat, the budgetary unit is eligible for SUA.
Oil
The cost of oil used as a utility, billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments, is allowable.
When oil is used to produce heat, the budgetary unit is eligible for SUA.
Utility Installation Fees
The initial utility installation fee is an allowable NA Utility Expense in the month the expense is billed when all of the following occur:
The utility installation fee is for an initial installation of a utility
The utility installation is performed by the utility provider
NOTE One-time deposits are not an allowable NA Utility Expense.
Examples of utility installation fees include the following:
Electrical wiring
Gas pipes
Septic tanks
Solar panels
Water pipes
Telephone
The expense for basic service fees of landlines or cell phones are allowable when the budgetary unit has an obligation to pay any portion of the telephone expense. This includes the following:
When the expense is billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage.
When the participant is responsible for the charges (even when it is billed to another person).
When the budgetary unit participates in the Lifeline Assistance Program, a telephone expense is allowable when one or both of the following apply:
The discount program does not pay the expense in full
Extra airtime is purchased after exhausting free minutes
Water
The following utility expenses billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments are allowable:
Water services expense.
Well maintenance expenses including the following:
Chemicals for water treatment
Service and repair
The expense of purchasing water when onsite water is not available.
Wood
The budgetary unit is eligible for SUA when all of the following occur:
The wood is purchased or is billed separate from or itemized with rent or mortgage payments
The wood is used to produce heat.
The budgetary unit is not eligible for SUA when the participant cuts their own wood and only incurs costs connected with cutting wood such as cutting permits, gas for chain saws or trucks, and equipment for cutting the wood.
Verification
Participant statement verification can be used as the primary source of verification for utility expense obligation when no other verification is available at the time of the interview or change, except when either of the following occur:
The expense is in another person’s name who is outside the budgetary unit.
The participant’s statement is questionable(g).
Utility expense obligation must be verified only when any of the following occurs:
New application
Renewal application
When a reported change in the expense or address is received (See Effecting Changes for change information)
When the expense amount is questionable
Utility Allowance Verification
To be eligible for the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA), the obligation of only one heating or cooling utility expense is required to be verified. To be eligible for the Limited Utility Allowance (LUA), the obligation of at least two non-heating or cooling utility expenses are required to be verified.
When participant statement verification cannot be used, the following can be used to verify the utility allowance:
A utility bill
A landlord’s statement when the statement identifies that the landlord is paid an amount for utilities separate from the amount paid for rent
A lease agreement that shows a portion of the amount paid is used to pay specific utilities
A Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payment
When the utility expense is billed to someone outside the budgetary unit, one of the following must be used to verify who is responsible to pay the expense:
A collateral contact (CC) with the person billed for the expense
A signed statement from the person billed for the expense
NOTE The CC documentation or the signed statement must include the type of utility expense and must state that the budgetary unit has the responsibility to pay the utility expense.
Telephone Expense Verification
When participant statement verification cannot be used, the following are examples of what can be used as verification for the telephone expense obligation:
The telephone bill or proof of payment for minutes attached to a specific device
A receipt from the cell phone service carrier
A screenshot from the cell phone (when the customer only makes payments through the device)
An email from the cellular phone service provider verifying the expense
Energy Assistance
When a budgetary unit receives energy assistance, all of the following must be verified:
Rental obligation amount
Utility allowance amount
Utility reimbursement amount
Energy assistance amount
1) During the interview, Jessica stated that she is not obligated to pay any utilities. However, she spends about $50 every other month to buy wood for the fireplace to heat her home.
Since the fireplace that uses wood is the source to heat the home, Jessica is eligible for the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA).
2) Tracy is billed $60 for electricity and $25 for telephone. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) pays the electric and telephone companies directly as a vendor payment for the full amounts.
Since Tracy receives LIHEAP, Tracy is eligible for the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA).
3) Casey receives $75 monthly from Section 8 to assist with his utilities. Casey states during the interview his house uses central air conditioning for cooling and central heating. Casey provides an electric bill of $120.
Since Casey incurs a heating or cooling cost and his utility expenses exceed his Energy Assistance payment, Casey is eligible for SUA.
4) Maria states she is obligated to pay $20 for gas and telephone. Maria states the gas is used for their gas stove for cooking.
Since Maria is not obligated to pay for a heating or cooling cost but is obligated to pay for two non-heating or cooling utility expenses, she is eligible for the Limited Utility Allowance (LUA).
Legal Authorities
last revised 11/28/2022