(Harrisburg) -- The state program that helps low-income families pay their heating bills has started accepting applications.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, helps more than 390,000 Pennsylvanians stay warm in the winter.
Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Anne Bale says it's important to apply early -- because the agency usually sees a surge in need in January and February.
"The program really remains about the same as last year," Bale says. "As always, it's based on your income, whether or not you get the benefit. So, apply and then the money is sent directly to your utility company to offset your heating bill."
Bale says a family of four making less than 34,000 dollars a year can qualify for the benefit.
The federal government is scaling back funding for the program, and Pennsylvania will receive $209 million this year - down from $277 million in 2011.
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