You can find a number of assistance programs that the federal government offers to Americans in need.
However, a lot of these opportunities go unnoticed, and the Lifeline program is one of them.
On average, Americans will pay about $41,591 for Wi-fi, $36,445 for cell phone plans, and $29,030 for streaming services over their lifetime!
The cost of phone and internet services can be tough to keep up with for certain families and individuals, and Lifeline is here to change that.
If you believe this applies to you, you might want to check out the program to help your finances for a bit.
Here you’ll learn exactly how Lifeline works, what you can gain from it, and how you can apply!
Lifeline – How does it work?
Lifeline is issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
The program allows qualifying households to receive a discount of up to $9.25 on several services, although you can only get this support one at a time.
Another benefit of the program is that households located on tribal lands get an increased discount, up to $34.25 every month.
The discount from this program can be applied to your wireline and wireless service bills.
Tribal land additional benefits
Aside from the increased discount, users living on tribal land can receive many more benefits.
This includes a one-time $100 discount. If the service fees are above $200, the program also provides access to financing opportunities, one of which is a full-year payment plan with zero interest.
Unfortunately, not every carrier in the US supports the Tribal Lands Link Up plan.
This is why you must first do your research before jumping in to receive these benefits.
A quick rundown of the Lifeline program
Despite the fact that the FCC created it, the Universal Service Administrative Company manages the program.
The USAC is a not-for-profit organization, and in addition to working with program users, it also works with service providers to help them participate in the Lifeline program.
The support they provide can help the program’s users from the moment they start the application process as well as during recertification.
You can find all information about Lifeline by contacting the USAC or looking through their website.
Of course, there’s a set of eligibility requirements to meet if you wish to receive benefits.
One of those is having an income that’s equal to or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Aside from this, you may also be able to receive support if you’re already participating in another assistance program.
This applies to:
- Supplemental Security Income
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Certain Tribal programs
Some guidelines to follow
If you are eligible for receiving support, you must remember to follow certain guidelines for the program.
One of these is being able to prove your eligibility for the program.
An additional thing about the program is that you’re not allowed to receive additional support from Lifeline if your household is already receiving benefits from the program.
Finally, you must go through a recertification process whenever your certification period expires if you wish to keep your eligibility status.
How do you know if you’re eligible?
The best way to find out if you qualify for Lifeline is to look it up online.
You can do this at the program’s official website by clicking on the “Do I Qualify“ text on the front page.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the program and whether it applies to your current circumstances.
Additionally, you could also visit the FCC’s website.
There you’ll find extensive information about what the program provides and who it’s applicable to.
How to apply for Lifeline?
To begin your application process, you’ll usually have to start on the National Verifier application system.
This system was created by the FCC to ensure that the applicant is honest about their current situation, and it also helps define if they qualify or not.
The system is operated by the USAC, and you’ll be using it when recertifying for the program as well.
The documentation you’ll need
Considering you’ll need a way to confirm your eligibility, there’s a certain amount of documentation you must collect before applying.
These documents will serve to prove your financial situation and help determine if you meet the program’s qualifications.
Among others, you should expect to have the following documents:
- Documentation from an eligible program
- Relevant income verification forms
Without the documents listed above, you won’t have a way to prove your eligibility.
If this happens to be the case, you won’t be able to receive benefits from Lifeline.
How does recertification work?
Even though you met the eligibility requirements during the application, you’ll have to prove your status every time you recertify.
You’ll have to do this every year, and if you fail to meet the eligibility requirements, you risk losing the benefits from the program.
There’s a variety of things that can lead to this, including:
- An increase in your income
- Disenrolling from a federal assistance program that qualified you for Lifeline
- Having someone else from your household begin receiving Lifeline support
Even if your certification period hasn’t expired yet, the moment you become ineligible for Lifeline, you’ll want to stop using the program benefits.
If you don’t report this status change to the office managing your case, you could face serious penalties.
Considering how expensive communication can get, the benefits Lifeline offers can help you save more than you’d think.
If you qualify for Lifeline, you can receive up to $9.25 monthly for your wireline and wireless services.
Additionally, if your household is on tribal land, this discount increases to $34.25 every month.
If the tribal discount applies to you, you may also be entitled to a one-time discount of $100.
Either way, if you wish to find out more about Lifeline, you can do so by calling the toll-free number or checking out information online from their website.