Utilities and Medical Concerns
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
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“My electric or gas utilities just got shut off or will be shut off. Can I get them back or keep them on for medical reasons?”
If lack of utilities is dangerous to your health or the health of a person living at your residence, then the utility company must postpone disconnection for 30 days or reconnect service. To qualify, the person must have a serious medical condition and the person's health must be in danger. A serious health condition can include mental health (such as depression) or physical conditions that pose an especial danger if utilities are shut off. The law treats these situations slightly differently depending on whether the utilities are going to be shut off or have already been shut off.
If the utilities are still on but you are facing disconnection:
- You will have to get a doctor or public health official to verify the nature of the health danger and approximately how long the danger will continue. If the doctor or health official verifies this over the phone, they must follow up in writing within 5 days. After the health danger is verified, the utility company must postpone disconnection for 30 days. You must make payment arrangements within that time or else the utility company can restart disconnection.
If your utilities are already disconnected and you want to be reconnected:
- You will have to get a doctor or public health official to verify to the utility provider the health danger within 14 days of disconnection. Then the utility company must reconnect you and postpone further disconnection for 30 days. You must make payment arrangements within that time or else the utility company can restart disconnection.
This legal information was translated with the assistance of a Prairie Meadows Community Betterment grant.