Lifeline Program

Advice For Caregivers

Lifeline Program assistance can provide financial relief for eligible subscribers, including Medicaid recipients

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, started a program in 1985 that would offer assistance to low-income households when it came to telephone services. As technology has grown, the Lifeline Program has also evolved. If you’ve ever been curious about the Lifeline Program and wondered if it could benefit you or your senior loved one, we have the information you need to learn more about the opportunity.

It is important to note that the Lifeline Program through the Federal Communications Commission is not the same as the Lifeline Medical Alert. Philips Lifeline is a medical alert device that provides comprehensive fall detection technology as well as emergency services for seniors who are looking for additional peace of mind while living at home alone or with a partner. Philips Lifeline claims to be the original provider of medical alert services, providing safety and security to seniors across the country since 1972.

How It Works

The Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program is designed to provide financial relief to low-income families through discounted communications service bundles. While the program started to include telephone services, advancement in technology means the Lifeline Program now includes broadband internet services through participating wireless and wireline providers.

The Lifeline Program supports eligible households. People can determine if they meet the FCC’s guidelines by seeing if they meet any of these requirements:

  • Have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP
  • Participate in Medicaid
  • Participate in Federal Public Housing Assistance through HUD vouchers or other means
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI
  • Receive the Veterans and/or Survivors Pension benefit
  • Participate in certain federal Tribal programs

If people are eligible, they can receive up to $9.25 discount on services for wireline or wireless services. There is only one Lifeline Program recipient per household allowed per the FCC guidelines and rules.

Program Rules

Thanks to the Lifeline Program, eligible seniors can enjoy discounts for wireless or wireline services

As with most federal assistance programs, there are rules for the Federal Communications Commission Lifeline Program. For example, only one Lifeline Program subscriber is allowed per household. It is not okay for both a husband and a wife, for example, to receive Lifeline Program benefits or assistance. Instead, there would just be one Lifeline Program account for that particular home.

Other rules to be aware of are:

  • People can determine if they are eligible for the Lifeline Program by visiting the National Verifier application system website. This website not only tells you if you are eligible for program benefits, but it also will recertify you on an annual basis as needed.
  • If you do not have access to the National Verifier application system website, you can submit documentation that will verify your eligibility by working with a Lifeline Program provider.
  • You cannot lie or falsify information on any Lifeline Program application or recertification forms. 
  • There can only be one person per household who receives Lifeline Program benefits. If one person who has the benefits happens to move into the same house as another person who already has benefits, one of the people must unenroll from services. Failure to do so can cause a penalty.
  • Participants in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program must recertify on an annual basis in order to retain benefits. During the recertification process, participants may be asked to submit paperwork or other evidence that they remain eligible and meet the eligibility requirements.
  • It’s your responsibility to keep your wireless or wireline provider up to date on your Lifeline Program status. For example, if you are no longer eligible or unenroll from the program, you need to inform your provider. You must also inform your provider if you move or if your contact information changes.

FAQs

The Lifeline Program has successfully provided financial relief to qualified individuals and households for decades. However, there are some common questions that participants and others ask in regards to the program.

 

How much is the Lifeline Program discount worth?

The current Lifeline Program discount is $9.25 per month. This includes all wireless or wireline services like telephone and broadband internet.

 

Can I apply my LIfeline Program discount to a bundled service package?

Yes. Lifeline Program discounts can be applied to a combination telephone and internet package through a provider.

 

Wireless services can keep seniors connected at home

What are the additional Tribal lands benefits?

For eligible participants in the program, an additional $25 is available for participants who live on Tribal lands. This is in addition to the $9.25 monthly.

 

What is considered a “household”?

There can only be one Lifeline Program recipient in a household. A household is defined as a group of individuals who live at the same address. The household is also an “economic unit”, which means the adults who live there all contribute to the household.

 

How can I apply for Lifeline Program benefits?

The easiest way to apply for Lifeline Program benefits is to directly do so through National Verifier. This online screener will determine eligibility and even recertify you annually.

 

If you are not able to access the online application, you can mail an application form that you download on the National Verifier site. Just be sure to select your current state before downloading the form. You can complete the form and then mail it in per the directions. 

 

If you know of a local Lifeline Program provider, you can also work with that provider directly. You can find a list of providers listed by state here.

 

What if I am no longer eligible for benefits? 

During your time as a Lifeline Program benefit participant, you may no longer be eligible. For example, if you move into a household where another person is already using Lifeline benefits, one of you must unenroll or else you will face a penalty. You may also become ineligible due to an increase in your monthly income. In this case, it is your responsibility to unenroll from the program as soon as possible or face a penalty later.

 

How often do I need to use my benefits?

If you receive your services for free, thanks to the Lifeline Program, you must use your service at least every 30 days.

 

Who do I contact if I have a disability or am unable to apply for the Lifeline Program via the National Verifier website?

If you have any issues enrolling or if you have questions about the Lifeline Program in general, you can call the Lifeline Program support number at 1-800-243-9473. You can also find general assistance by visiting the Lifeline Program support website.

 

What types of services can I expect from Lifeline Program providers?

You can expect your provider to meet these minimum standards:

  • At least 1000 minutes for cell phone plans
  • At least a speed of 3G and usage of 3G/month for data plans
  • At least a speed of 20/3 Mbps and usage of 1024 GB per month for home-based internet plans

 

Can I change providers?

You can change providers at any time, as long as your new provider is a Lifeline Program provider.

 

The Lifeline Program is an excellent option for eligible households. Its financial relief can allow people in the home to stay in communication with the world around them. This service has become especially important during the coronavirus pandemic as children and adults have been utilizing internet services for school and work while at home.

However, not everyone is aware of the Lifeline Program. This has resulted in low participation across the country. A recent article reports that less than ⅓ of eligible participants receive Lifeline Program benefits in the state of Florida. This means that the majority of eligible participants do not have the tools they need to stay in contact with their friends, family, school, and workplace.

Use the Lifeline Program resources to determine if you or your senior loved one are eligible today.