AUGUSTA — A new mandate that requires applicants for federal fuel assistance to show their Social Security cards is delaying aid to those who need it, Maine advocates say.

Kennebec Valley Community Action, has received about 6,800 applications for heating help, according to Kelly LaChance, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program manager for the group.

About 4,000 clients have been paid but some have been denied access because of the new requirements aimed at preventing fraud, she said.

“The biggest holdup this year is everybody has to bring in a Social Security card,” LaChance told a gathering of the Emergency Heating Assistance Group, made up of about a dozen people representing nonprofits, municipalities, social service agencies, and an oil dealer.

LaChance said some people only have photocopies of their Social Security cards, others don’t have them or haven’t had a card in years, according to the Kennebec Journal.

“It’s a hardship,” she said.

The Social Security Administration is backed up in processing requests for cards but can issue an official “snapshot” of the card, which will be accepted for heating assistance, she said.

Maine is expected to receive about $37.5 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds this year. The average benefit for Kennebec Valley Community Action clients has been $550 to $565, LaChance said.

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