The benefits of the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program are available to people in every state, and to those who meet the program’s requirements. Those who are eligible can apply through an approved Lifeline service provider. With several telecommunications companies offering the program’s discounts, low-income households can easily find a provider in their area.
“Applicants who are also interested in receiving a free cell phone to use with their free monthly phone service should look for providers who provide this option,” said Issa Asad, the CEO of Dania, Florida’s Q Link Wireless, a major provider of the Lifeline Assistance Program. “Q Link Wireless is just one Lifeline provider that chooses to supply a free cell phone to qualified low-income individuals.”
For those who are wondering if they qualify and what to expect, let’s take a detailed look at the eligibility requirements and application process of the Lifeline program.
Lifeline eligibility requirements vary by state, but generally, those who meet at least one of the following requirements are eligible to enroll in the Lifeline program:
- Having a household income at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines of their specific state
- Receiving benefits or assistance from a qualifying federal or state assistance program, such as Medicaid, Section 8, Food Stamps/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or other government assistance programs
- Resident of a federally-recognized Tribal Land who currently receives benefits or assistance from a qualifying federal or state assistance program
- Resident of a federally-recognized Tribal Land who currently receives benefits or assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance Program, Head Start, Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Rules and Restrictions
In addition to meeting the above eligibility requirements, those who are interested in enrolling in Lifeline should be aware of the program’s following rules and restrictions:
- Only one Lifeline subscription benefit per household is allowed. A household includes all residents who share the same address, expenses and income, including minors and non-family members. Applicants can choose between a Lifeline discount on either landline phone service or wireless phone service.
- Those who are eligible to receive a free phone from their Lifeline provider will only receive one phone per household.
- Those who have more than one Lifeline discount per household must choose one provider and contact the other provider to de-enroll. Those who do not follow this federal rule could face penalties.
- Those who have a Lifeline discount must re-certify eligibility every year. If this step is not taken, subscribers are dropped from the program.
The Application Process
Those who are eligible for Lifeline should contact a Lifeline provider in their state or a designated state agency to enroll in the program. During the enrollment process, applicants will need to provide certain types of documentation, such as:
- Proof that they receive benefits or assistance from a qualifying program, such as a statement or program participation documents
- Proof of income, such as a recent income statement, paycheck stub, previous year’s tax return or Social Security statement of benefits
Applicants will also need to give the Lifeline service provider or state agency their name and address, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security Number or Tribal Identification Number.
Applicants will also have to make certifications that must be re-certified each year, such as the following:
- They only receive one Lifeline discount per household
- They still participate in a government assistance program, or meet their state’s low-income requirements
- They provided true and correct information on their application
Re-certifying yearly might seem daunting to some subscribers, but the process is straightforward. “The FCC’s 2012 reforms have made the re-certification process more convenient for Lifeline subscribers,” said Asad. “Lifeline subscribers can easily and quickly re-certify each year through their provider’s website.”
The 2012 reforms mentioned by the QLink Wireless CEO should also help keep the program running smoothly and more efficiently. In our final segment, we’ll explore where Lifeline is headed.
Above content provided by Q Link Wireless and Quadrant Holdings, located in Dania, Florida.