Lifeline is a federal program that provides a monthly benefit of $9.25 to reduce or eliminate the cost of phone/internet connectivity for eligible households.
Watch this video to learn about the Lifeline program, including how to qualify and what the benefit can be used for.
Watch this introductory presentation for community advocates (originally aired November 17, 2016) to learn about the Lifeline Program and how to support qualifying customers.
Or, skip to Getting Started with Lifeline to learn more.
Consumer advocacy groups, social service agencies, and other organizations that support Lifeline customers are welcome to print and distribute these publications in their communities:
Coming Soon: CheckLifeline.org / Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier
The federal Lifeline Program is building a centralized system to check customer eligibility called the “National Verifier.” With the National Verifier, consumers will get approved as eligible for Lifeline by the federal Lifeline Program, rather than their phone/internet company.
All states and territories will use the National Verifier by the end of 2019. The first states where it will launch are Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. USAC will announce additional states to launch the National Verifier later this year.
Customers will be able to use the National Verifier by visiting CheckLifeline.org using any computer or mobile device, by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center, or by visiting a participating phone/internet company. Once CheckLifeline.org goes live in a state, it will also handle the annual recertification process. Visit the National Verifier page to find out when your state will begin using the National Verifier.
What’s New in 2018
Port Freeze Rule Eliminated
From December 2017 to March 2018, there was a minimum period of 60 days (for voice service) or 12 months (for broadband service) that Lifeline customers were required to remain with their phone/internet company called a “port freeze.” Beginning on March 19, 2018, the port freeze is eliminated, and Lifeline customers can switch Lifeline companies at any time.
Targeting the Additional Support for Tribal Lands to Rural Areas & Facilities-Based Providers
Beginning in August 2018 or later, there will be two changes that impact Lifeline customers on Tribal lands who receive the additional $25 per month and Link Up.
The first change is that the additional support will be restricted to rural areas (more densely populated areas on Tribal lands such as Tulsa, OK and Reno, NV will no longer qualify). The second change is that Lifeline customers can only receive the additional support if their phone/internet company is a “facilities-based provider” (a company that owns and operates its own network facilities).
Impacted customers will receive a notice from their phone/internet company at least 60 days before these changes go into effect. They will have the option to continue receiving the standard $9.25 amount, or switch to a facilities-based phone/internet provider.
Join USAC, the FCC, and other partner organizations for various training and awareness events throughout the year, including:
- NARUC’s Lifeline Awareness Week, held annually in September
Getting Started with Lifeline
Who Can Get Lifeline
Households that participate in certain federal assistance programs or earn 135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for a Lifeline benefit. Visit the Do I Qualify? page to learn more.
How to Enroll Customers
Customers should ask their current phone/internet company if they offer Lifeline, or find a company that does. The company will provide an application and ask for proof of eligibility (such as a SNAP card).
If the application is approved, in most cases the benefit will begin right away. Visit the How to Get Lifeline page to learn more.
State Lifeline Benefits
The federal Lifeline benefit is $9.25 per month, but some states offer additional support amounts (for example, Texas Lifeline offers up to $12.75 per month and Pennsylvania Lifeline offers up to $11.75 per month). Participating phone/internet companies can help you determine the amount available in your state.
Additional Support for Tribal Lands
Residents of Tribal lands can receive an additional $25 per month, and up to $100 to cover the cost of service installation/activation. Learn more on the Tribal Lands page.
Who Manages Lifeline
Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Most customer interactions occur through the customer’s phone/internet company. Each state has a Public Utility Commission or Public Service Commission that regulates the phone/internet companies, and these commissions can assist in cases where a phone/internet company is uncooperative or unresponsive to the customer.
Lifeline Program Rules
Visit the Lifeline Rules & Rights page to learn about the program’s rules for consumers.
Help & Customer Support
Phone/internet companies can answer most customers’ questions about Lifeline. But if the customer is having trouble working with their company, they can contact their state’s Public Utility Commission or USAC for help. Learn more on the Help page.