Purpose of Lifeline
Lifeline is a Federal government benefit program designed to make basic telecommunications service affordable to all citizens in the USA. It is intended to provide a subsidy to low income households toward their wireless or wireline phone service so that they can afford the safety, security, and opportunity that comes with phone service.
How much help does Lifeline provide?
The subsidy available from the Lifeline program can vary but averages $9.25 per month. This is the Federal
benefit for most states but each state may provide more help for their citizens. For those living on federally recognized
tribal land, the benefit can be much more and, there are additional funds of up to $100 called Link-up available toward
activation costs. The Link-up part of the low-income fund has recently been eliminated for those not living on tribal land.
Money for Lifeline and Link-up comes from the Universal Service Fund (USF).
Only one Lifeline benefit is available for each qualifying household. You may receive just one subsidy for either a wire-line or a wireless phone but not both. And, only one benefit for the entire household. So, you may not get a Lifeline subsidized cell phone for each memer of your family.
A household is considered to be one or more individuals living together at the same residence as an economic unit. An economic unit is a group contributing to the income and expenses of a household.
Who is Qualified for Lifeline?
Lifeline is available to all low income households in the United States. To be eligible, your household must have a total income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty level, or a member of the household must be enrolled in a government assistance program such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc. See a complete list of Lifeline qualifications.
How do I get it?
You can apply for the Lifeline benefit with your current home phone service provider. If they don't offer
Lifeline service, you can find an alternative home phone provider that will convert your current residential service
or activate new service for you. The internet is a great resource in finding alternative home phone providers.
For Lifeline cell phone service, you will need to find a Lifeline wireless provider and start new service or convert your existing one. Typically, Lifeline cell phone providers will offer you free minutes each month which is usually advertised as free government phone service.
The subsidy is paid to your phone provider from the Universal Service Adminstrative Company (USAC). The amount of the subsidy is then passed along to you the comsuner as a discount off of your phone bill.