Every person in America should have access to quality, affordable telecommunications service. This principle of “Universal Service” has been the goal of the telecommunications industry for decades. In 1934, the federal government codified the goal and reaffirmed it in 1996 by establishing policies for the “preservation and advancement of Universal Service.”
To achieve the Universal Service goal, carriers have access to a fund that is generated by contributions from the telecommunications providers in the United States. Telecommunications companies draw from the fund to provide four programs that support telecommunications services nationwide. Lifeline Assistance Program (Lifeline) is part of the fund’s Low-Income Program and are described in detail below. Toll limitation service is another program available to low income subscribers to help them control what they spend on telephone service.
Lifeline and Toll Limitation Service support provide discounts to eligible low-income consumers to help them establish and maintain telephone service.
What type of discount is available?
Lifeline assistance lowers the cost of basic monthly telephone service. Eligible consumers can receive up to $9.25 per month in discounts. Additional state support may be available.
Eligible residents of Indian reservations or tribal lands can receive up to an additional $25 in Lifeline support, but must pay at least $1 for basic monthly service
Toll Limitation Service (TLS)
TLS support allows eligible consumers who wish to avoid incurring large long distance fees to choose toll blocking or toll control at no cost.
How do I know whether I am eligible?
Eligibility for Lifeline and TLS support varies by state. Individuals who reside in states that have their own discount programs qualify for federal Lifeline and TLS support if they meet the eligibility criteria established by their state. In states that do not provide state support, an individual is eligible if he or she participates in one of the following programs:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food stamps or SNAP)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Federal Public House Assistance
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.
In addition, a consumer may be eligible if his or her household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
To Apply for Lifeline:
- Download and complete the certification form and submit it to the address on the form. (please include any supporting documents)
- Re-certification forms are mailed to all subscribers every year. When you receive a re-certification form, complete and return it to the address on the form within 60 days. Re-certification is mandatory and Long Lines will suspend your eligibility for low-income assistance if you do not return the re-certification form.
Estimated Income Requirements for a Household at or Below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
|Family Size||48 Contiguous States & Washington, D.C.|
|For each additional person add:||
Residents of Indian reservations or tribal lands qualify if they participate in any of the programs listed above, have a household income that is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, or participate in one of these programs:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) general assistance
Head Start (income eligible)
Please provide the following information:
1. A signed and completed Lifeline assistance certification form.
2. A copy of one of the following if applying based on the size and income level of a customer's household:
- Last year's federal or stat income tax return
- Current annual income statement from employer
- Paycheck stubs for most recent three consecutive months
- Social Security statement of benefits
- Veteran's Administration statement of benefits
- Retirement or pension statement of benefits
- Unemployment or worker's compensation statement of benefits
- Letter of participation in general assistance
- Divorce decree or child support documentation
3. Supporting documentation of program-based eligibility if applying based on participation in any programs listed above.
Aceipatable documentation of program eligibility includes the current or prior year's statement of benefits from a qualifying assistance program, a notice, letter or documents of participation in a qualifying assistance program, or another official document demonstrating that you, or one or more of your dependents, or your household receives benefits from a qualifying assistance program. Federal law requires your provider to review and securely retain this documentation. Federal law also prevents your provider from sharing these documents with unauthorized persons.
How do I apply to receive Lifeline and TLS support discounts?
Contact Long Lines at 712.271.4000. Consumers must apply for Lifeline and TLS discounts through their local phone company. Visit the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) website www.lifelinesupport.org or call USAC toll free at 1.888.641.8722 with questions about Lifeline and TLS discounts.