The federal government provides several types of aid to eligible individuals and families in need. One option that many people are unaware of is the Lifeline Program, which helps low-income earners pay for phone or internet service expenses. If you struggle to afford these services, consider this program as a way to improve your financial situation. This article will explain what the Lifeline Program is and how it can help you.
HOW THE LIFELINE PROGRAM WORKS
The Lifeline Program is a service provided by the federal government that offers discounts onwireless or wireline services. Those who qualify for the program can receive up to $9.25 off their monthly bill, and those who reside on tribal lands may be eligible for up to $34.25 in discounts each month. Only one service can be discounted at a time. The discount cannot be applied to multiple services simultaneously.
In addition, this program provides assistance for broadband internet and broadband-voice bundles. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the Lifeline Program–which is important to remember because there is a maximum of one benefit per household that qualifies.
UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS OF TRIBAL LAND LIFELINE
With Tribal Land Lifeline, not only do qualifying recipients receive an additional one-time discount of up to $100, but if you activate or install a phone service first, you should also receive an extra one-time discount. In addition, Tribal Lands Link Up can provide financing options such as a no-interest payment plan for up to one year. However, it’s important to note that not all carriers allow Tribal Lands Link Up and you need be choosy about which carrier you want your service with.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE LIFELINE PROGRAM
The FCC established the Lifeline program, and though Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) manages it, they also lend support to applicants when needed. In fact, the USAC can help you throughout your entire application process if you need help. This includes eligibility requirements and making sure that recipients keep their benefits during recertification. Additionally, you should find that the USAC provides a useful resource about the program.
In order to get benefits from the Lifeline Program, you first need to meet the eligibility requirements. Your income must not exceed 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You might be eligible if you already qualify for another federal assistance program. The following programs will automatically make you eligible for the Lifeline benefit:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- Some Tribal Programs
GUIDELINES OF THE LIFELINE PROGRAM: WHAT ARE THEY?
To participate in the Lifeline program, potential participants must adhere to a set of guidelines, which are as follows:
- Need to provide evidence that you qualify
- The federal government restricts only one Lifeline service for each eligible family
- Need to recertify to stay eligible and keep their benefits.
DO I QUALIFY FOR THE LIFELINE PROGRAM?
If you are interested to discover if you qualify or not, you can always look it up online. You can visit lifelinesupport.org. The only thing must do need is click on the “Do I Qualify” hyperlink to find out whether you are eligible. Within this page, you can find whatever you need.
THE LIFELINE APPLICATION PROCESS
Generally, you will need to inquire through the National Verifier application system. The FCC established the National Verifier to work as a streamlined system. However, there are many ways to apply for the program. You can apply directly to the National Verifier portal online. If you are interested in finding more information about the application process, you should think about the “How to Use It” section of lifelinesupport.org. Additionally, you can call the Lifeline Support Center at 1-800-234-9473, or email LifelineSupport@usac.org.
DOCUMENTS YOU SHOULD PRESENT FOR YOUR LIFELINE APPLICATION
As an applicant, keep in mind that you need to present documents since you need to verify that you qualify. These documents need to prove your situation and that you meet the eligibility requirements. The documents that you need to present to the Lifeline Program can include the following:
- Documents that prove that you are taking part in a qualifying federal program
- Official documents from a qualifying program
- Declaration of the benefits from a qualifying program
- Letter of notice of participation from an eligible program
- Forms of verification of income (earlier year tax returns, an income statement from your employment, paycheck stubs, decree, a child support award, etc.)
WILL I ALWAYS NEED TO CONTINUE TO VERIFY MY ELIGIBILITY?
Simply, the answer is yes! The first time that you need to verify your eligibility is during the application process. After that, you will need to present your eligibility annually when you go through the recertification process. You might lose your benefits from the Lifeline program in the case that you do not qualify anymore. Any of the following circumstances could result in you losing your eligibility:
- An income increase means that you are not eligible for the income requirement
- You unenroll from a certified federal program
- Someone else in your home receives Lifeline benefits
If you figure out that you do not qualify for the program, then you will need to unenroll from your Lifeline benefits as soon as possible. In the case that you do not unenroll, you could face penalties.
WHAT Can I DO IF I HAVE A DISABILITY OR NEED ASSISTANCE WITH MY APPLICATION PROCESS FOR THE LIFELINE PROGRAM?
Connect with the Lifeline Support Center toll-free number at 1-800-234-9473, or send an email to LifelineSupport@usac.org. The Support Center can be able to offer further assistance and information on your Lifeline benefits. Also, the FCC has a Disability Rights office that can offer more help to you. If you want to contact the Disability Rights office, then you have the option to do so. You can contact the Disability Rights office via 202-418-2517 or 844-432-2275 for a video call, or by sending an email at DRO@fcc.gov.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Lifeline Program offers discounts on various monthly services, up to $9.25, which could potentially help improve your current situation and quality of life.
For people and families that are currently residing on tribal lands, the discount applied can amount to $34.25 each month. Recipients who get approved for the Tribal Lifeline Program can also get an extra benefit of a one-time discount of up to $100. Suppose you are interested in more information or want to apply for the program. In that case, you can apply online at the National Verifier portal or contact the Lifeline Support Center toll-free number at 1-800-234-9473.