Payment Assistance Programs
Critical Care and Chronic Condition consumers, as well as low-income consumers are strongly encouraged to enroll in the following payment assistance programs:
Victims of Family Violence
If you are a victim of family violence, you can have your electric service deposit waived. To qualify as a victim of family violence, you will need to provide a Texas Council on Family Violence deposit waiver certification letter.
The letter must be filled out by family violence center personnel, treating medical personnel, law enforcement personnel, a Texas District Attorney or County Attorney, Office of the Attorney General personnel, or a grantee of the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation.
The letter must be FAXED directly to the Retail Electric Provider (REP) using the REP's toll-free FAX number. A copy of the deposit waiver certification letter and waiver forms can be obtained from the Texas Council on Family Violence's Website at: http://www.tcfv.org/resource-center/survivors/.
TDHCA Payment Assistance
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) provides relief to low income elderly and/or disabled households by providing financial aid, paying up to four of the highest bills during the year. For information, please call toll-free 1-877-399-8939 or visit their website at: www.tdhca.state.tx.us/ea/index.htm.
Active Military and Veterans Assistance
Lifeline is a government benefit program supported by the Universal Service Fund that provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. Lifeline helps ensure that eligible consumers have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family, and emergency services.
The Lifeline program is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands. Consumers with proper proof of eligibility may be qualified to enroll. To participate in the program, consumers must have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in a qualifying state, federal or Tribal assistance program.
To participate in the program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in one of the following assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program's Free Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
- State assistance programs (if applicable)
Federal rules prohibit eligible low-income consumers from receiving more than one Lifeline discount per household. An eligible consumer may receive a discount on either a wireline or wireless service, but not both. A consumer whose household currently is receiving more than one Lifeline service must select a single Lifeline provider and contact the other provider to de-enroll from their program. Consumers violating this rule may also be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties.
The Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC is responsible for data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the low-income program. USAC's website provides information regarding administrative aspects of the low-income program, as well as program requirements.
Lifeline reduces the basic monthly telephone rate by $9.25 for those who qualify. This program does not cover the cost of additional services such as caller ID or voice messaging. In addition, a reduction for installation of local telephone service may be available to these consumers through the Link-Up program.
You can apply for Lifeline Discounts by calling toll free 1-866-454-8387 or by downloading the application at http://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/lowincome/Assistance.aspx.
The Link-Up program reduces the cost of starting new telephone service to qualifying low-income residents.
A resident is qualified if the current total household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. A resident is also qualified if they receive at least one of the following:
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program support
- SNAP (Food Stamps)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Childrens Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) under Chapter 62 support
Link-Up offers a 50 percent discount (up to $30) for telephone installation charges. Link-Up does not cover more than one phone line in the home, but the program does include an option for delaying payment on the balance of the connection fee, up tp $200, for up to one year without interest charges. Link-Up does not offer financial assistance for additional services on the telephone, such as caller ID or voice messaging.
Visit the Lifeline Support website at www.lifelinesupport.org for information about local phone companies as well as guidelines for applying to the Link-Up program.
For more information about state-sponsored utility payment assistance programs, please visit the Public Utility Commission's website at: http://www.puc.state.tx.us/consumer/lowincome/Assistance.aspx.
Lifeline for Cellular Telephones
Lifeline support is now available for wireless phones through SafeLink Wireless. SafeLink Wireless was created by TracFone Wireless, Inc. when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the company to offer Lifeline to qualifying low-income subscribers.
Instead of receiving a monthly telephone bill for Lifeline service, SafeLink converts the total amount of discounted service into minutes each month for one year. The cell phone offers in-demand features: voicemail, text, three-way calling, call waiting, caller ID and access to 911.
Texas consumers who qualify for the Lifeline discount for home telephone service will also qualify for the Lifeline cellular telephone program. For more information on the Lifeline cellular program please visit one of the following provider websites:
SafeLink Wireless - www.safelinkwireless.com/Safelink/
For Enrollment and Plan Changes Support: 1-800-977-3768
For Technical Support ONLY: 1-800-378-1684
Q Link Wireless - www.qlinkwireless.com
For Enrollment and Support: 1-855-754-6543