Lifeline Assistance Program
This program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund. The Lifeline program is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands. All telecommunications service providers contribute to the USF, including: wireline telephone companies, wireless telephone companies, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers. Many telecommunications providers pass this charge along to its customers with a line item on their phone bill marked under "Universal Service." However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not require that this charge be passed on to consumers.
How Lifeline Works
Lifeline provides a discount on monthly service of $9.25 per month for eligible low-income subscribers. Subscribers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but may not receive a discount on both services at the same time. In the near future, Lifeline will support broadband and broadband-voice bundles. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household. Lifeline is available to eligible low-income subscribers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands.
To participate in the program, subscribers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs. You can see if you are eligible with the Lifeline Eligibility Pre-Screening Tool on the Universal Service Administrative website at www.lifelinesupport.org .
Following is a list of assistance programs that qualify a participant for Lifeline:
eligibility verification documentation
Acceptable documentation for Lifeline program eligibility verification includes: Current or prior year's statement of benefits from a qualifying program; notice letter of participation in qualifying program; program participation documents (or copy); or another official document of a qualifying program.
Acceptable documentation for income eligibility verification includes: The prior year's state, federal or Tribal tax return; current income statement from an employer or paycheck stub; Social Security statement of benefits; Veterans Administration statement of benefits; retirement or pension statement of benefits; Unemployment or Workers' Compensation statement of benefits; federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance; or divorce decree, child support award, or other official document containing income information. The subscriber must present the same type of documentation covering 3 consecutive months within the previous 12 months, if the documentation does not cover a full year of income.
Apply for Lifeline through a Lifeline Program provider in your state or designated state agency. To locate a Lifeline provider in your state go to www.lifelinesupport.org or call USAC's toll-free number (1-888-641-8722).
The subscriber will also be required to provide certain information to the phone company or a state agency (depending how subscribers in their state sign up for Lifeline), including:
- Name and address information. Consumers who do not have a permanent residential address must provide a temporary address, which cannot be a P.O. Box. If a consumer resides at a temporary address, the telephone service provider or state agency may require confirmation of the address.
- Date of birth and the last 4 digits of the consumer's Social Security Number.
- Consumers participating in the Lifeline program must notify the telephone service provider within 30 days if the consumer moves.
- Consumers participating in the Lifeline program must notify the telephone service provider within 30 days if the consumer is no longer eligible for Lifeline.
Federal rules prohibit eligible low-income consumers from receiving more than one Lifeline discount per household. An eligible consumer may receive a discount on either a wireline or wireless service, but not both. A consumer whose household currently is receiving more than one Lifeline service must select a single Lifeline provider and contact the other provider to de-enroll from their program. Consumers violating this rule may also be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties.
Consumers who participate in the Lifeline Program must recertify annually that they remain eligible for the program and that no one else in their household receives Lifeline Program-supported service. If you do not complete the recertification process by the end of the year, you will no longer receive your free monthly Lifeline benefit and your phone will no longer work unless you add money to your account.
All of the information provided on this page and logo comes from the Lifeline Assistance Program website.