The FCC Lifeline Program Brings Affordable Communications to Low-Income Consumers

The FCC Lifeline Program Brings Affordable Communications to Low-Income Consumers

Updated August 27, 2020
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Having phone and internet access is crucial for everyone. Low-income consumers, however, often have a hard time affording the costs.

The Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers helps provide low-Income Consumers with low-cost cell phone and internet service.

Lifeline provides a monthly discount for eligible subscribers. You may receive a discount on a home line or wireless line, but you may only choose one. It also provides discounts on internet service. But again, you may have only one Lifeline service per household.

Who Qualifies?

Qualifying for low-cost cell phone or internet service requires that you meet one of the following:

  • You must have income that less than or equal to 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (based on your household size)
  • Be a part of federal assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or SSI
  • Your child belongs to a federal assistance program
  • You live on tribal lands (you may be eligible for an additional $25 discount)

How To Apply

If you know you qualify, you can then ask your phone or internet provider (choose one) for a Lifeline application. You can find a provider here.

You may also apply online through the Lifeline portal. If you apply online, you may get an answer regarding eligibility immediately. It depends on if they need more information, which you can just upload to their system if they do.

You’ll complete the application with your personal identifying information including your social security number. You’ll also need to provide proof of your identity with your driver’s license, social security card, or last year’s tax return. You’ll provide proof of your income and demonstrate the need for the support.

Once you are approved, you can use your benefit with any participating company. If you already have internet or phone service with a participating company, they can walk you through the process.

You must recertify for benefits every year. The National Verifier service (that verifies your eligibility) will try to do this automatically. If they can’t, the USAC will get in touch with you to get the necessary documents to recertify your eligibility.

What Are the Benefits?

Lifeline support provides low-cost internet or cell phone service by discounting your bill up to $9.25 per month. This helps make one service that you need more affordable. It’s important to know that you have to use your benefit or you lose it. The USAC requires you to use the benefit once every 30 days. If you don’t use it, they will send you a 15-day notice before canceling your benefit.

The nice thing about the service is that you can change service providers at any time. You aren’t obligated to use one service. As long as the company participates in Lifeline, you can change your provider.

If you need low-cost cell phone or internet service, determine if you qualify for Lifeline. It’s a great way to get a small discount and make the service you need the most affordable.

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