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By Ashley Hupfl

Albany Bureau

ALBANY New Yorkers could see home heating bills increase more than 13 percent this year, putting many elderly people at risk, an AARP report released Monday found.

New York has the second highest electric heat bills in the country, at 60 percent above the national average, said the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"High home heating bills can offset the delicate balance of older New Yorkers already have when it comes to affording the basics," Beth Finkel, AARP's state director, said in a statement. "Too often, older New Yorkers have to choose between paying their heating bill and paying for their prescriptions."

The AARP report found older residents that make under $20,000 a year will be the most at-risk group because this group spends the highest percentage of household income on heating bills. An AARP survey found 60 percent of residents over the age of 50 consider paying their home-heating bill a problem.

The federal Home Energy Assistance Program awards about $190 million to eligible low-income residents to help pay home heating bills. The funding was cut from $204 million last year.

A single person household must not make more than $2,175 a month to be eligible.

Residents can apply for the program starting Nov. 18th to receive benefits starting from $400 to over $600 to help heat their homes. The benefits are awarded to eligible residents on a first-come-first serve-basis.

For more information, check eligibility, or to apply, visit: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/program.asp

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