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.