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Everything You Need to Know About Lifeline Assistance Program

What is Lifeline?

Low-income households can receive savings on home phones, cell phones, and broadband internet service under the lifeline assistance program.

 It is the most extensive federal telecommunications subsidy program in the U.S.

The program was created in 1985 to make communications more affordable for low-income consumers.

Applicants must have an income below the federal poverty guidelines.

A study on help-seekers utilizing Lifeline crisis services revealed that participants who received suicide-related calls were likelier than non-suicide-related callers to endorse specific reasons for contact, such as ‘difficulty coping with life events’ and ‘feeling depressed or anxious.’ These differences are significant given that suicide-related connections are more likely to be in immediate distress and require quick access to crisis services than non-suicide-related callers.

Additionally, the Lifeline program collaborates with mental health experts to improve crisis services for younger people and those in marginalized communities, including those who are LGBTQ. For example, Lifeline i offer a mobile phone app that lets users connect with a counselor trained to address the needs of LGBTQ youth. This service and the Hotline and other Lifeline resources are critical for helping people in crisis get the emotional support they need to stay safe.

Who Qualifies for Lifeline?

Every year, you must recertify your eligibility for Lifeline. You must provide proof of your household income, including pay stubs or other documents.

Depending on the state, you may need to meet additional eligibility requirements. Generally, you must have an annual income of less than Federal Poverty Guidelines and a qualifying benefit or government assistance program.

Eligibility criteria also vary by provider. The Lifeline Assistance Program offers discounts on the monthly telephone, wireless, and broadband internet service to eligible customers.

Some residents can receive per month on broadband internet and Tribal lands in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). A one-time discount to purchase an Internet-capable device from participating providers is also available.

Lifeline is a federal assistance program that helps low-income subscribers save money on their monthly phone and internet bills. It is a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and participating providers.

How to Apply for Lifeline?

The Lifeline Assistance Program is a free home phone and wireless service discount for eligible low-income consumers. It helps consumers stay connected to jobs, family, community resources, and government and emergency services.

The program is federally funded and managed by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC). Consumers who qualify for Lifeline can apply for it online, in person at a participating phone or internet provider, or via a download form from USAC.

Depending on the state, you may need to show your full name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security Number or Tribal identification number, and home address. Your selected phone or internet company should have information on how to apply, and they may be able to assist you.

Residents can apply for Lifeline based on their household income or if a household member participates in an approved government assistance program. Check out the income eligibility chart below to see if you qualify for Lifeline.

You can also get annual credit on your utility bills from the Tenants Lifeline Assistance Program, a benefit for tenants with utilities included in their rent. The utility company will write you a check for the credit, and you can use it toward your utilities.

Consumers can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to receive a similar monthly discount on broadband services and a one-time discount towards an internet-capable device if their households are eligible for Lifeline. Learn more about the ACP, which has replaced the previous EBB benefit program.

How to Recertify for Lifeline?

Lifeline subscribers must recertify their eligibility for the program every year to maintain their free talk, text, and data benefits. USAC will send all Lifeline participants a letter with renewal instructions and a copy of the Annual Recertification Form.

You can recertify online, over the phone, or by mail. Most of the time, you need your application ID sent to you when you first enrolled.

Some subscribers will be required to provide additional documentation to recertify their eligibility. This can include proof of the qualifying government assistance program you participate in or your total household income.

A subscriber may only receive a Lifeline benefit on one phone service or internet plan per household. This is a federal requirement.

After a Lifeline subscription expires, USAC will contact subscribers to remind them that they must recertify their eligibility within 60 days of the date they were notified. They will be sent a notification letter and Form Annual Recertification Form to complete to remain eligible for the program.

Customers who fail to recertify during the recertifying process will automatically be de-enrolled in the Lifeline program and moved to the ACP-only plan for their state. See ACP Terms & Conditions for more information.

The Lifeline program is a federal program designed to help lower the monthly telephone and internet services cost for low-income consumers. Depending on your household size, this benefit could save you up to a month.

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