Lifeline is a Federally funded program subsidizing low-income consumers for phone and broadband services. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) manages the program offered through dozens of regional telecommunications providers.
Lifeline is available to households with incomes at or below the federal poverty guidelines. Eligible families and individuals can receive a discount for one home landline, wireless phone, and qualifying broadband internet.
What is Lifeline?
Lifeline is an assistance program designed to help low-income households save money on telecommunications services. Established in 1985, the program covers various telecommunications services, including home phone service (landline and cable), mobile data, bundled voice/broadband, and stand-alone broadband.
The Lifeline program is administered by USAC, an independent not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., and delivered through dozens of regional telecommunications companies. The program is available to eligible consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and Tribal land.
In addition to a subsidy, eligible Lifeline customers receive a discounted rate on their monthly phone or broadband service. Only one discount is allowed per household, so it is essential to recertify annually to ensure you still qualify.
When Lifeline participants need help, they push a lightweight waterproof button on a neck or wrist-style help button that activates a small in-home communicator unit connected to their telephone. A trained personal response associate will answer the call within seconds and join the individual with the right help.
The program also has an app called Lifeline Cares, which allows participants to share updates and information about their health conditions. The app can be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet. When a Lifeline participant’s caregiver or loved one gets notified that they have called for help, they can immediately access the information via the app.
How Does Lifeline Help Seniors?
Lifeline helps seniors in several ways. For starters, Lifeline offers discounted phone service that can help to make it possible for low-income seniors to get connected with friends and family.
Access to affordable phone service can also ensure senior citizens can stay in touch with their doctors to schedule appointments, discuss health concerns, and receive test results. Calling family members is also essential, as it can give elderly individuals peace of mind that their loved ones are safe and healthy.
Another way that Lifeline can help seniors is by allowing them to remain safe and secure in their homes. With the Lifeline medical alert system, seniors can press a personal help button to be redirected to an around-the-clock Response Center, where they will be assisted by a trained specialist as needed.
Additionally, Lifeline helps to keep senior citizens connected to the outside world and gives them a chance to remain active and involved with their community. Many older adults find aging to be a challenging time and often feel social isolation.
To qualify for Lifeline, seniors must meet specific income requirements. These criteria vary by state, but the minimum income must be of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or lower in most cases. Those who meet these criteria can determine their eligibility through the National Verifier application website or by requesting a paper application from a Lifeline support center in their state.
How Do I Qualify for Lifeline?
Through the lifeline assistance program, qualifying low-income customers can get their phone costs reduced. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the program and provides a monthly discount on home telephone and wireless services.
The eligibility requirements for Lifeline vary by state and are based on income or participation in government programs. Consumers can apply online or by mail.
A household is eligible for Lifeline if its total income is at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The full payment is the sum of the household’s total revenue and expenses.
You can determine your eligibility for Lifeline by completing the Lifeline Application and Household Worksheet. The worksheet will help you assess your household’s total income and expenses.
When you have completed your application and household worksheet, you must send it to USAC with the necessary documentation. The documents needed for the application include a Social Security number, proof of income or participation in a government assistance program, and a copy of your current utility bill.
Depending on the type of service you are interested in, you may need to provide additional documentation. For example, suppose you are applying for Lifeline wireless service. In that case, you must provide proof of government assistance or a household income below the federal poverty level in your state.
What Kind of Phones Can Lifeline Participants Get for Free?
Lifeline is a federally-funded program that can help low-income people get free or discounted phone service. It’s part of the Universal Service Fund, which helps connect all Americans to jobs, family, and emergency services.
The government’s long-standing goal is to ensure everyone in the United States can access communications technology. It has created programs that assist those in need, including free phones and data plans.
One of these programs is the Lifeline Assistance Program, which has helped millions of Americans get free phone service since 1985. This program is available to all qualified low-income households and covers wireline and wireless services.
In addition to phone service, Lifeline participants can also get discounts on internet services and devices. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a monthly discount on internet service and an additional one-time device discount for eligible households.
This plan provides unlimited talk, text, and data on one of America’s most extensive 4G LTE and 5G networks.
Lifeline Assistance participants can also get a free smartphone with an eligible plan. This plan includes 4G/LTE data with Wi-Fi hotspot capacity.