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Apply for a discounted communications service through the Lifeline Program

Lifeline is a government benefit program that provides a monthly discount on one communications service from a certified Lifeline service provider.

Department of Telecommunications and Cable

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COVID-19 UPDATE

Click here for information on service changes during the COVID-19 pandemic: COVID-19 Response from Broadband and Telephone Service Providers as of 5/28/2020

Lifeline is a federal program that provides free or low-cost phone or internet service to low-income households through a monthly service discount of up to $9.25. Lifeline subscribers have the choice of applying their benefit discount to either (1) home phone service; (2) home internet service, where available, or (3) a wireless phone plan with data. The Lifeline Program subsidy does not cover the cost of a wireless device, but some Lifeline Providers may choose to offer an initial wireless device upon completing enrollment. If you have a mobile device you would like to use with your Lifeline service, please contact the Lifeline wireless service provider prior to completing enrollment to see if your device is compatible with the provider’s network.

Only one Lifeline program discount is available per household, which is defined as any individual or group of individuals who live together at the same address and share income and expenses.  Therefore, if there are multiple people living at the same address, but they do not share income, each individual will be eligible for Lifeline service.

Eligibility

There are two ways to qualify for the Lifeline program: income-based eligibility (household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines) or program-based eligibility (Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Certain Federally-Recognized/State Tribal Assistance Programs, and Veteran's Pension or Survivor's Pension benefit).

A full list of eligibility criteria, including the federal poverty guidelines, is available here: https://www.lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/.

As of January 22, 2020, prior to enrolling with a Lifeline service provider, Massachusetts Lifeline applicants need to first verify their eligibility for the Lifeline Program using the National Verifier, a centralized system that is managed directly by USAC, the administrator of the Lifeline Program under the direction of the (FCC).  In order to verify eligibility, you will need to complete the standard Lifeline Program application as well as submit a copy of proof of eligibility documentation.

A full list of acceptable proof of eligibility documentation can be found here: https://www.lifelinesupport.org/do-i-qualify/how-to-prove-participation/.

NOTE: Until June 30, 2020, the FCC will waive its requirement that consumers seeking to demonstrate income-based qualification for the Lifeline program must provide at least three consecutive months of documentation to confirm their income. Instead, consumers can now present an official document that confirms their current income information such as a notice of unemployment benefit payments or notice of a successfully submitted application for unemployment benefits.

The National Verifier will return an eligibility decision by mail or email, if provided, within 7-10 days.  

How to apply Apply for a discounted communications service through the Lifeline Program

Apply online by visiting www.CheckLifeline.org/lifeline.  You will need to create an account (username and password) and enter all required information. Upon submission, an eligibility determination will be immediately returned. If the National Verifier cannot prove eligibility automatically, you will need to upload your proof of eligibility document directly to the website for further review.

 

COVID-19 Update: the DTC recommends applying online, not by mail, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although USAC continues to operate during this time, USAC offices are closed and mailed applications may therefore be subject to delays in processing. For help applying, contact the DTC

Apply by mail by submitting a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center.  If applying by mail, you should be sure to submit a completed Lifeline application and a copy of her proof of eligibility documentation to:

Lifeline Support Center

P.O. Box 7081

London, KY 40742

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The National Verifier will return an eligibility decision by mail or email, if provided, within 7-10 days.  

Any questions about the application process or eligibility documentation can also be directed to USAC via the Lifeline Support Center at 1-800-234-9473.  The Lifeline Support Center operates 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm and continues to review applications during this period. 

You will have 90 days to choose a provider and sign up for Lifeline service with them once USAC approves your eligibility. For a list of Lifeline providers in your area, visit the USAC website and enter your zip code.

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Prepare for Annual Eligibility Recertification

Each year you must certify that you are still eligible to receive the Lifeline Program benefit and that no one else in your household is receiving a Lifeline Program benefit.

Typically by the anniversary date of your enrollment in the Lifeline Program with your provider, you will be contacted by USAC with instructions on how to complete the recertification process.  You must respond to this request within 60 days.

If you do not complete this recertification process, you will lose your Lifeline benefit.  This means your monthly bill may increase, or the services you normally receive for free each month will not be provided.

If USAC determines that you are no longer eligible for the Lifeline benefit, it will notify you of such and your Lifeline service will be terminated in 30 days, unless you provide proof of eligibility.  

If you become ineligible for the Lifeline benefit at any time, you must contact your Lifeline provider within 30 days to de-enroll from the program or you may be subject to penalties.

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