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 or call 1-888-641-8722.

The following is a list of assistance programs that qualify a participant for Lifeline:

Additional qualifying programs for persons living on a reservation:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservation (FDPIR)
  • Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Tribally Administered Head Start (only those meeting income-qualifying standards)

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