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Chapter 4: Financial Assistance

Section 10: Utility Assistance

 

Need Help Paying Bills


       


info@needhelppayingbills.com
www.needhelppayingbills.com

Many people need help paying bills and debt in today’s challenging economy. Families need help so that they do not have to decide between paying their mortgage, credit card debt, food, rent, utility, or medical bills.

Find information on assistance programs, charity organizations, and other resources that will provide you with help paying your bills, mortgage and debt, show you how to save money, as well as provide some tips and ways to pay bills when money is tight. Many American families are struggling under an increasing number of bills, debts, and financial obligations. When you and your family are experiencing this stress, you need to reevaluate the situation, set priorities, and look for assistance.

Average Monthly Payment Plan

Electric and Gas Company Programs
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       

800-522-8154 Public Utility Complaints
405-521-2331 Voice
405-521-3513 TTY

 
 

Each electric and gas utility must offer its residential customers the option of being billed on an "average monthly payment plan" which allows the consumer to pay the same amount each month, thus avoiding unexpectedly high bills which may be difficult to pay. [Oklahoma Corporation Commission Rule 165:35-19-31 and 165:45-11-4 (b6)]

Financial Assistance Delay

Electric and Gas Company Programs
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       

800-522-8154 Public Utility Complaints
405-521-2331 Voice
405-521-3513 TTY

 
 

This provision postpones electric or gas service disconnection due to failure to pay the bill. When a residential customer has applied for and is awaiting financial assistance, including Social Security or SSI, from a federal, state or local social service agency, and the utility has initiated written notice of disconnection, it shall delay disconnection of service for a period of at least 20 days from the date such notice was either delivered or mailed to the residential customer, provided:

[Oklahoma Corporation Commission Rule 165:35-21-10 (d) and 165:45-11-14 (d)]

Life Threatening Situation

Electric and Gas Company Programs
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       

800-522-8154 Public Utility Complaints
405-521-2331 Voice
405-521-3513 TTY

 
 

A life-threatening situation is defined as one where the consumer or other permanent resident of the household is dependent upon equipment that is prescribed by a doctor, operated on electricity or gas and is necessary to sustain the person's life. Examples of life-sustaining equipment would be kidney dialysis machines, oxygen concentrators, cardiac monitors, and in some cases heating and air conditioning when prescribed by a licensed medical doctor. If battery back-up for the life-sustaining equipment is normally available, then it is not considered a life-threatening situation. Corporation Commission rules specifically list some items that are not considered life-sustaining equipment. They include stoves, hot water heaters, refrigerators, nebulizers that are battery or hand driven or "self-contained," battery driven sleep apnea monitors or battery driven cardiac monitors.

An electric utility must suspend disconnection of service or reconnect service if the customer notifies the utility that disconnection of service will cause a life-threatening situation for the customer or other permanent resident of the household. The customer must obtain medical verification of the life-threatening condition and provide this to the utility (on a form required by the utility) within 30 days from the customer's notification to the utility that the life-threatening situation exists.

This provision does not require electric or gas companies to maintain utility service indefinitely to a customer who does not pay the bill, even though a life-threatening situation may exist. The utility is only required to extend such service for 30 days from the notification of the life-threatening situation. If payment or payment agreement is not made by then, cutoff can occur. A customer can apply for one additional 30-day grace period before the first 30 days has ended.

The life-threatening situation provision does not relieve a customer of the obligation to pay the electric or gas bill in full or make arrangements for time payments.

Any false information a customer provides in order to prevent service disconnection under this provision is grounds for disconnection.
[Oklahoma Corporation Commission Rule 165:35-21-10 (f) and 165:45-11-14 (f)]

Notification Procedure for Elderly and Handicapped Customers

Electric and Gas Company Programs
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       

800-522-8154 Public Utility Complaints
405-521-2331 Voice
405-521-3513 TTY

 
 

Elderly and disabled electric and gas utility customers can advance notify a utility that they want special notification if disconnection of service is imminent. The procedure requires the utility to both call and send written notice to the Corporation Commission's Consumer Services Division five days before an elderly or handicapped customer's service will be cut off due to nonpayment. The Consumer Services Division can then request an additional five day delay before service is cut off. [Oklahoma Corporation Commission Rule 165:35-21-11 and 165:45-11-13]

Oklahoma Department of Human Services - Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Sequoyah Memorial Office Building
2400 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 25352
Oklahoma City,   OK   73125-0352

866-411-1877 Toll Free
405-521-3444 Voice 405-521-4158 Fax

 
www.okdhs.org/programsandservices/liheap/

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides cooling, energy crisis, and low cost weatherizing/other energy-related home repair assistance to low-income households to assist with winter heating bills, and to provide help for some families who have received utility cut-off notices.

Enhanced Lifeline Service

Discount Telephone Services
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       


 
 

This program provides $1 a month basic telephone service and a 50% waiver of the standard telephone installation fee. Qualifying individuals must live on current or former tribal land. (64 of Oklahoma's 77 counties include former tribal land.) A person must also be participating in one of these programs:

You should contact your local telephone company for information on whether you qualify for the Lifeline/Link Up or the Enhanced Lifeline/Linkup programs and how to apply. State Qualifying information is also available on the Universal Service Administrative Company's (USAC) web site, www.lifelinesupport.org, in your local phone directory, or you can call USAC toll free at 1-888-641-8722.

Lifeline Program and Link-Up America

Discount Telephone Services Oklahoma Corporation Commission
       


 
 

Also known as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Universal Service Program for Low-Income Consumers. Federal law requires telephone companies doing business across state lines to offer discount telephone installation and service fees for low income individuals. Lifeline programs reduce monthly telephone charges for low income families while Link-Up America reduces installation charges. Lifeline and Link-Up America programs can vary from state to state. The Lifeline Program can be up to $10 monthly for local telephone service. Link Up program pays one-half of the installation.

To be eligible for Oklahoma's Lifeline Program a person must be eligible for or receive assistance from one of the following programs:

You should contact your local telephone company for information on whether you qualify for the Lifeline/Link Up or the Enhanced Lifeline/Linkup programs and how to apply. State Qualifying information is also available on the Universal Service Administrative Company's (USAC) web site, www.lifelinesupport.org, in your local phone directory, or you can call USAC toll free at 1-888-641-8722.

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