Getting Started

Lifeline is a federal program that lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet. Eligible customers will get at least $9.25 toward their bill; residents of federally-recognized Tribal lands can receive an additional $25 per month.

Get Started

If you recently became responsible for Lifeline at your company, start by making sure USAC has your contact information, then learn about the Lifeline Program’s rules. Make these updates:

  • Create an account in USAC’s E-File and NLAD systems
  • Update your company’s contact information using FCC Form 498
  • Sign up for the Lifeline Program Newsletter and/or the NLAD Bulletin, and register for our monthly webinars

Service Provider Responsibilities

Service providers are responsible for complying with all of the Lifeline Program’s rules, including any applicable state laws or requirements, and having processes and procedures in place to make sure the rules are followed. The rules change over time, and service providers are responsible for being aware of and implementing any changes in FCC Orders and Public Notices and from states.

Service providers also must keep documentation that demonstrates their compliance with all state and federal rules and requirements.

Overview of the Rules

Webinar Recording: Introduction to the Lifeline program

USAC can help you understand the Lifeline Program’s rules, but there is no replacement for reading the FCC’s Lifeline Program Rules in full.

Provide an Eligible Service

Service providers can only apply the Lifeline discount to certain service types. Learn more on the Provide High-Speed Broadband Service page and the Lifeline-Supported Voice Service page. If you provide a bundled offering, apply the discount to any component of the bundle that meets Lifeline’s standards.

Follow Enrollment Procedures

In most states, the service provider must Verify Subscriber Eligibility, begin providing service, and enter the customer’s information into NLAD before providing the Lifeline discount. If you receive an error from NLAD, follow the NLAD Dispute Resolution process. In certain states, service providers must use the National Verifier or a state-specific process to confirm eligibility.

Keep NLAD Up-to-Date

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) prevents consumers from claiming more than one discount, and verifies their identity and address. Update NLAD every time a customer enrolls or de-enrolls in the program, or changes their information (for example, a change of address). Service providers are not allowed to claim reimbursement for a customer unless they are entered in NLAD.

Claim Reimbursement for Providing the Discount

After you provide the Lifeline discount to your customer, Claim Reimbursement from USAC.

Confirm Subscriber Eligibility Annually

Each year, by the customer’s “anniversary date” (as shown in NLAD; usually one year from when they initiate service), service providers must conduct the recertification process to confirm the subscriber is still eligible for Lifeline. In certain states, the National Verifier or a state administrator handles the recertification process. There is an option to elect USAC to handle this process on your behalf; elections usually open in the fall.

Prepare for Annual Filings

Each year, service providers must submit FCC Form 555 (due January 31), which reports the results of the recertification process, and FCC form 481 (due July 1), which includes certain annual certifications.

De-Enroll Ineligible Customers

If a customer is no longer eligible for Lifeline, you must De-Enroll Ineligible Subscribers in NLAD within one business day.

Advertise Lifeline

Service providers must Advertise Lifeline in their area.

Recordkeeping and Audits

Service providers are required to keep records of their compliance with all of the Lifeline Program’s rules. Keep records for three full preceding calendar years. Keep customer-specific records for the entire time your company provides service to them, plus three full years.

USAC conducts Audits and Assessments to confirm that participating service providers are following the rules. During audits and assessments, USAC will likely ask to see your documentation. Learn about recordkeeping for enrollment, and the most Common Audit Findings for the Lifeline Program.