Free Government Programs

Your Guide To Lifeline

Can you tell me what time it is?

Odds are you probably reached for your phone.

These days, smartphones are hardwired into our everyday lives. Access to information, security, and other people has never been more readily accessible or more necessary.

But what about those who can’t afford phone or internet services?

Those who live in low-income conditions and don’t possess cell phones are at a distinct disadvantage in the modern world. While out and about, they can’t contact friends or family or access the internet. They also cannot reliably apply for jobs without a working phone number.

Even worse, those without phone service have no way of dialing 911 if an emergency presents itself in the home or otherwise.

For these reasons, the Lifeline program exists to provide low-income consumers with access to free cell phones and discounted monthly data and minutes. No one should ever be without phone and internet services, and now they don’t have to be.

 

But what is Lifeline?

Lifeline is a program provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that aims to give low-income consumers access to affordable communications services.

While the program has existed since the 1980s, only recently in March 2016 did the FCC reform and modernize Lifeline to also provide broadband services to those in need.

Before this reform, 43% of America’s lowest income households claimed that they could not afford modern broadband.

Now, these households can finally connect to the fast-paced modern world thanks to Lifeline.

But there is more to Lifeline eligibility than income alone.

 

Who Qualifies for Lifeline?

To be eligible for the Lifeline program, a household must be at or fall 135% below the federal poverty line.

A subscriber could also qualify for Lifeline if they or their children or dependent participate in any of these assistance programs:

o Medicaid
o Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
o Veterans Pension an Survivors Benefit
o Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
o Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)

Though this eligibility is limited to only one household, the program’s broad range of categories ensures that those who need the services most will receive them.

 

Some Documents You Can Use to Qualify

There is no shortage of ways for a consumer to prove their Lifeline eligibility. Here are a few documents you can use to qualify for lifeline:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

o Copy of a Benefit Check Stub from the Social Security Administration

o Copy of your Social Security Statement of Benefits

o Copy of other official documentation from State Agency indicating current participation

Food Stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

o Copy of your Award Letter

o Copy of your Food Stamp Benefit Card

o Copy of other official documentation from State Agency indicating current participation

Medicaid

o Copy of your Medicaid ID Card

o Copy of other official documentation from State Agency indicating current participation

Section 8, or Federal Public Housing Assistance

o Copy of your Award Letter

o Copy of your Public Housing Assistance Lease Agreement

o Copy of your Section 8 Voucher

o Copy of other official documentation from Public Housing Agency

Veterans Pension or Survivor’s Pension

o Veterans Pension Grant Letter

o Veterans Pension COLA Adjustment Letter

o Survivors Pension benefit Summary Letter

 

What Determines a Household?

Though the answer to this question may seem cut-and-dry, it is less straightforward than it seems.

A Lifeline discount can only be allotted to one “independent economic household.” While most people think of a household as simply a place where one or multiple people live, Lifeline’s policies define it as “a group of people who live together and share money.”

This means that if you live with a spouse, the both of you are only eligible for one Lifeline discount.

However, if you live with a roommate and do not share money with them, both of you could be eligible for Lifeline.

Be sure to check the What is a Household? section of usac.org for more information.

 

Some things to Keep in Mind

Here are a few important items to remember about the Lifeline program:

1. Recertify Every Year

This is vital if you want to maintain your Lifeline benefits over the years. Remember to do this on time so you don’t unexpectedly lose your Lifeline discount!

2. Contact Your Wireless Company If You Move

If your address changes, be sure to notify your wireless company to avoid any potential confusion.  

3. You Can Be Disconnected for Non-Usage

Make sure that you use your Lifeline service at least once every 30 days. Otherwise, you’ll receive a 15 day notice to use it before it gets turned off.

4. You Can Be Disconnected if you No Longer Qualify

If you become ineligible for a Lifeline discount, whether it be a change in income or another reason, you can be disconnected from the service. Make sure to keep your company up-to-date on your eligibility so the disconnection doesn’t come as an unwanted surprise!

 

It’s a lot to keep in mind for sure. But I know by now you must be wondering…

 

How Can They Just Give me a Free Phone!?

It’s actually extremely simple.

On most phone bills, there will be a small consumer fee under the title “Universal Service Fund.”

The money spent on this fee goes towards funding Lifeline’s provisions. Though wireless companies like Q Link Wireless subsidize the actual phone itself, the minutes and data are funded through USF fees.

This is what keeps Lifeline smartphones, minutes, and data free for qualified consumers.

Lifeline is designed to provide free vital communication services to those without them. That’s really all there is to it.

 

How Do I Get Started?

Signing up for your free smartphone is super easy!

Click the link here to sign up and check if your area qualifies for the service.

If your area qualifies, simply enter your shipping address and contact information, choose your phone plan, then provide proof of your eligibility.
Presto! Your phone should be on its way to you within 7-10 business days.

With information and communication taking such a prominent role in today’s society, each day spent without it is a day spent at a disadvantage.

Don’t wait to get connected. The world around you awaits.