How Households Can Benefit From Lifeline


In today’s day and age it is almost as essential to have telephone and internet access in your home, as it is to have electricity. Just a couple of decades ago communication services were brand new and were considered a luxury to afford in some homes. Very quickly mobile phones and wifi became the new normal. Now, in today’s modern world, households require these services.

There are many reasons it’s important for households to have access to a reliable internet connection. For example, work-from-home opportunities and online education grew in popularity out of necessity in the last few years. Every household deserves to be connected. The federal government recognizes this fact and offers assistance programs that can help! Certain households can benefit from assistance provided by the Lifeline program. In order to benefit from this assistance option, you need to know how it works and what qualifications you can expect.

Lifeline Program Overview

Households that may not be able to afford essential communication services may be able to rely on Lifeline! The Lifeline Program is offered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Meanwhile, it is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). This government program offers discounts on both wireless and wireline services. These discounts are available to low-income households that qualify. In addition to phone services, Lifeline also gives recipients the option to use their discount on internet services. Overall, these discounts help reduce the financial burden of staying connected.

How Much is the Discount?

The maximum discount a recipient can get is up to $9.25 per month. However, the exact amount of the discount may differ, depending on where you live and other requirements. The program’s support for both phone and internet services allows households to choose the communication method that best suits their needs. It’s important to keep in mind that households can only get a discount on one service at a time.

Program Guidelines Recipients Need to Follow

Like any government program, Lifeline has guidelines in place that recipients should follow if they want to continue getting benefits. To continue receiving assistance, the following rules apply:

  • Recipients need to recertify their eligibility on an annual basis.
  • Applicants need to be able to provide proof of eligibility.
  • Need to meet the qualification requirements.
  • Each receiving household is limited to one discount on one service.

Qualifying for the Lifeline Program

In order to benefit from the Lifeline program, you must meet certain income requirements. Households that make an income that is equal to or less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines may be able to qualify. These guidelines may differ depending on the size of your household and what area you live in. In addition to that, households that are already benefiting from other federal programs may qualify automatically. Here’s a list of some common assistance programs that can qualify you for Lifeline:

You check your eligibility by going online to On the homepage, you can click “Do I Qualify.” From there you can learn more about whether you can get Lifeline assistance.

Benefits Awarded to Tribal Land Residents

For residents living on tribal lands, the Lifeline program offers additional benefits other than the ones we outlined above. For example, they may offer qualifying households up to a 12-month payment plan with no interest. The Lifeline program also provides these recipients with a one-time $100 discount when setting up a new phone or broadband service at home. Moreover, if the installation service costs more than $200, then the Tribal Lands Link Up can offer an option to finance the payment. It’s important to note that not all service providers work with Tribals Land Link Up. monthly discount amount can be up to $34.25 for qualifying residents on Tribal Lands.

Applying for the Lifeline Program

There are a couple of ways that you can go about applying for the Lifeline program. Your first option is to complete a paper application to mail to a USAC office. However, another method would be to apply online using an online portal known as the National Verifier. The system assists the USAC in sorting out who can and cannot qualify for Lifeline. If you would like to apply for Lifeline or learn more information about this, check out a tutorial online.

Some applicants can also apply for Lifeline through one of the partnered service providers. If you need to find Lifeline providers in your area, you can check out this web page. If you need further assistance, you can email [email protected] or speak to someone on the phone at 1-800-234-9473.

Documentation Required for the Lifeline Application

The National Verifier system runs your information, making the application process easier for the USAC. If the system isn’t able to automatically verify the information you provided, you can be asked to provide supporting documents. Unfortunately, if your qualifications can’t be supported, then you can’t be eligible for benefits. You can review what documents you can be required to have by checking out this web page. Documents you can generally expect to present include:

  • Notice letter of participation from another federal assistance program
  • Participation documents in another federal assistance program
  • Benefits statement from another federal assistance program
  • Income verification such as tax statements, pay stubs, etc.

Maintaining Your Eligibility Status

Approved recipients of the Lifeline program need to redetermine their eligibility on a yearly basis. In order to recertify, applicants need to utilize the National Verifier system again. If you are found to no longer qualify for the program during this process, you won’t get benefits anymore. In this case, you are required to disenroll from the program right away. Circumstances that can cause you to lose benefits include the following:

  • You are no longer participating in another federal program
  • Your income went up and now exceeds the Federal Poverty Guideline
  • Another member of your household is now receiving benefits with Lifeline

Bottom Line

Overall the Lifeline program can benefit families and individuals that have a hard time affording phone and internet services. Qualifying recipients can benefit from getting up to $9.25 off of their communication services each month. Meanwhile, residents of Tribal Lands can benefit from up to $34.25 in monthly service plan discounts! These discounts can be applied to either telephone or broadband internet services. Lifeline also offers one-time discounts and financing options on installation services for qualifying Tribal Land residents. Naturally, the eligibility requirements for Lifeline are mainly based on income level. Furthermore, households that are already benefiting from one of the following assistance programs can likely get Lifeline support:

Applications for this assistance are accepted online or by mail-in application. Both online applicants and current recipients of Lifeline need to utilize the National Verifier system. Each year current recipients are required to recertify their eligibility if they want to continue receiving benefits. Communication services are incredibly important. Internet and phone access allow us to stay connected to family, friends, as well as various work and education opportunities.