The Universal Service Fund is a special program for low income households that are spending more than 3% of their income on a yearly basis for electric or natural gas. Households spending more than 3% per utility may be determined eligible to receive a monthly discount on their public utility bill. The discount may be from $5.00 to $150.00 depending on income and utility usage. The discount will start from date of eligibility determination, not the application date.
Low income households that spend more than 6% of their gross monthly income for utilities (3% for natural gas-3% for electric or 6% in an all electric home) may receive a monthly discount.
Applications are available all year from any Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) office. Applications can also be obtained on the Internet at www.energyassistance.nj.gov or by calling the USF Hotline at 1-866-260-1347. Applications for LIHEAP received from October to April will also be automatically evaluated for USF.
Eligibility is established in two phases. You must first complete the application and provide all necessary verifications to the LIHEAP office. Households with eligible incomes will have a request for USF benefits forwarded to their Utility through a State computer system. The Public Utility will then compare your income to your natural gas and electric usage to determine if you are eligible for a discount. Any grant received from LIHEAP or LIFELINE is also taken into account.
You will receive notification from the Department of Human Services if you are eligible and the discount will appear on your utility bill. The LIHEAP office only forwards the verified income and residence information. Determination of eligibility to receive a discounted bill is established by the Utility (PSE&G, JCPL, Atlantic City Electric, and South Jersey Gas). Processing may take up to 60 days.
USF benefits are granted for a period of 12 months. Households must be re-evaluated every year. USF benefits will automatically be recalculated each year when you re-apply for LIHEAP or USF. Your USF discount is based on the utility usage at your current address. If you apply for a new utility account at a new address, you must contact the new utility to request that they claim your account and re-establish eligibility. The discount may be different at your new address.