Lifeline: A Telephone Assistance Program for Low-Income Subscribers
Lifeline is the FCC’s program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. Lifeline provides a monthly discount of $9.25 for eligible low-income subscribers. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household at any time.
To participate in the Lifeline program, subscribers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs. You can see if you are eligible with the Lifeline Eligibility Pre-Screening Tool on the Universal Service Administrative website at www.lifelinesupport.org or call 1-888-641-8722.
The following is a list of assistance programs that qualify a participant for Lifeline:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
- Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
Program Rules include the following:
- Lifeline subscribers must document their low-income eligibility.
- Only one Lifeline benefit is permitted per household.
- Subscribers must recertify their eligibility annually with their telephone service provider.
- Subscribers who fail to recertify their eligibility will be de-enrolled from the Lifeline Program.
- Lifeline participants must notify their telephone service provider within 30 days if they are no longer eligible for Lifeline.
Application for the federal Lifeline program varies by state
- North Dakota consumers should contact their county social service office.
- Minnesota and South Dakota consumers may self-certify their eligibility.
- Minnesota also offers a state Lifeline program with its own eligibility criteria and application.