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

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

Updated December 24, 2020
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The FCC Lifeline Program Brings Affordable Communications to Low-Income Consumers

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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 affordable, 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 you may have only one Lifeline service per household.

Who Qualifies For Lifeline

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

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

How To Apply For Lifeline

If you know you qualify, you can 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. You may be asked to upload additional supporting documentation in some cases.

You must complete the application with your personally-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. Proof of income is also required to demonstrate your need for support.

Once you are approved, you can apply your benefit towards service with any participating company. If you already have internet or phone service with a participating company, they can walk you through the process of crediting your bill with Lifeline benefits.

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 offers?

Lifeline support provides low-cost internet or cell phone service by discounting your bill up to $9.25 per month, which may not seem like a lot depending on your service plan but can make it more affordable. It's important to know that you have to use your benefit, or you'll risk losing 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.

You can change service providers at any time and transfer your benefits as long as the provider you are switching to participates in the program.

If you need a 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 your phone service more affordable.

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