Utility Assistance

Lifeline Under COVID-19

T + T

Summary

The Lifeline Program is a federally-funded program which provides support to telecommunications companies that in turn offer discounts to eligible consumers. The Lifeline discount can be applied to either home telephone service (landline or cable) or wireless service and is available for only one line per household.

To be eligible, household income must be at or below 135% FPL or be in receipt of a federal benefit. Households can apply online, by mail, or directly with their current phone company.

Description

Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for those on Tribal lands.

Eligible households can get a Lifeline discount for a phone, or internet service, or a bundle (phone and internet combined). However, the discount can ONLY be applied to a mobile phone OR a home connection, but not both.

FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household and a household is not permitted to receive multiple Lifeline benefits from multiple providers.

Qualifying

To be eligible in New York State, consumers must have income at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (see chart below) OR be in receipt of at least one of the following:

  • Family Assistance (FA),
  • Safety Net Assistance (SNA),
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
  • Medicaid,
  • SNAP,
  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP),
  • Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit,
  • Federally subsidized housing assistance.
Lifeline Program
Income Eligibility
Household
Size
Annual
135% FPL
1 $17,388
2 $23,517
3 $29,646
4 $35,775
5 $41,904
6 $48,033
7 $54,162
8 $60,291

Due to COVID-19, the Federal Communications Commission has eased the documentation requirements for consumers applying for the Lifeline Program. To learn more, go to https://www.usac.org/lifeline/additional-requirements/covid-19-response/#more-flexibility.

Applying

There are three ways to apply for Lifeline:

USAC
Lifeline Support Center
P.O. Box 7081
London, KY 40742

  • By contacting a Phone or Internet Company. Contact the consumer’s current provider about Lifeline or click here to find a participating company.

Households who apply online or via mail will have 90 days to choose a phone or internet company and sign up for service with them.

Recertification

Typically, Lifeline subscribers must recertify annually to continue to participate in the program. However, due to the pandemic, recertifications are on hold for all subscribers with anniversary dates between April 14, 2020, and September 28, 2021. Affected subscribers will only be recertified once in the calendar year 2021.