Lifeline: Affordable Telephone Service for Income-Eligible Consumers
Wed, 09/06/2023 - 8:18am admin
Lifeline is the FCC’s program to help make communications service more affordable for low-income consumers. Lifeline provides subscribers a discount on monthly telephone and/or broadband services purchased from participating providers in the marketplace. The discounts, which can be applied to stand-alone broadband, bundled voice-broadband packages - either fixed or mobile - and stand-alone voice service - will help ensure that low-income consumers can afford 21st-century broadband and the access it provides to jobs, education, and opportunities.
The History of Lifeline
The FCC established the Lifeline program in 1985 to ensure that qualifying low-income consumers could afford phone service and the opportunities and security it provides. Congress supported and strengthened Lifeline in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, requiring that affordable service and advanced communications be available to low-income consumers across the country. In March of 2016, the FCC modernized Lifeline for advanced services by beginning a transition toward support of broadband service.
How Lifeline Works
Lifeline provides an eligible customer with broadband internet a discount of up to $9.25 per month. Eligible voice only subscribers will receive a discount of $5.25 per month. 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. Lifeline also supports 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 https://www.checklifeline.org/lifeline.
How Do I Qualify?
The following is a list of assistance programs that qualify a participant for Lifeline:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit Program
How Tribal Link Up Works?
Tribal Link Up provides eligible low-income consumers living on Tribal lands with a one-time discount of up to $100 on the initial installation or activation of a wireline or wireless telephone for the primary residence. Tribal Lands Link Up also allows consumers to pay the remaining amount that they owe on a deferred schedule, interest-free. Federal rules prohibit eligible low-income consumers from receiving more than ONE Link Up discount at a primary residence. Eligible consumers may be eligible for Link Up again only after moving to a new primary residence. Link Up support is only offered to carriers who are building out infrastructure on Tribal lands so not all carriers may discount their activation fee. Enhanced benefits are provided to low-income consumers who live on a federally recognized Indian Tribe’s reservation.
Tribal Lifeline takes up to an extra $25 off your monthly bill, for a total Lifeline discount of up to $34.25 per month. You can get Tribal Lifeline if you live on Tribal lands. Tribal lands include any federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, Pueblo, or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions, Hawaiian Home Lands, or Indian Allotments. The following is a list of Tribal assistance programs that also qualify a participant for Lifeline:
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance
Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
How Do I Sign Up for Lifeline?
If you qualify for any of the above programs, you must complete a Lifeline Assistance Application. You can find the application online at www.wrctc.coop.
Submit applications to:
Lifeline Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742