Exploring the Benefits of the Lifeline Program

There are many options available for low-income households seeking affordable communication services. One option is the Lifeline program. This government-supported program provides telephone and internet discounts for eligible families.

A surcharge on telephone bills funds the program. The Federal Communications Commission administers it. The program is available in every state, territory, and on Tribal lands.

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The Lifeline Program is a telephone assistance program that offers a discount on monthly phone and Internet services for eligible low-income households. Eligibility is determined by state government databases or through participation in other federal programs, such as SNAP, Medicare, and SSI. The discount varies by Lifeline cell phone providers and may include a bill credit, a waiver of the federal subscriber line charge, and mobile data usage allowances. In some states, the program also provides free smartphones for eligible users.

To receive the Lifeline discount, consumers must provide documentation to prove eligibility. The documents required vary by provider, including proof of income, participation in other programs, or identity verification in a state database. Applicants are generally required to verify their eligibility each year. If they do not, their service will be suspended or terminated.

Lifeline’s benefits for broadband are offered through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This new program replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and offers a monthly discount on broadband and a one-time voucher to purchase a broadband-capable device. The ACP and the Lifeline program work towards digital equity but have different strengths and considerations.

The ACP is only available through Internet service providers approved as a Lifeline vendor by the FCC. To find a Lifeline-approved Internet service provider, visit the website of your choice and enter your zip code or city and state. The website will provide a list of companies that serve your area.


Lifeline is a free program for low-income households that offers a discount on phone and broadband services. The program is available to individuals or households that receive government assistance, such as SNAP, Medicare, Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit, BIA General Assistance, or Food Distribution on Tribal Lands. To qualify for the program, the household income must be below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Approved telecommunications service providers, also called carriers, offer Lifeline-subsidized services in every state. Most states have multiple carriers that program participants can choose from. These companies offer plans that match or exceed the monthly Lifeline subsidy and are priced accordingly. These services include home phone, mobile phone, and internet bundled together. Usually, a beneficiary can keep their current phone number when they switch to a new plan.

Applicants for Lifeline must be US citizens or permanent residents and meet income requirements. They must also be up-to-date with all required documentation. Each year, recipients must recertify their eligibility for the program. In most states, the recertification process can be completed online, but individuals who don’t have internet access can still complete their recertification by phone. Individual carriers may also offer various convenient recertification options, including text messages and automated phone calls.


Whether you want to switch providers, change plans, or add more minutes, knowing which Lifeline providers are available in your area is important. The best providers will offer high-quality free smartphones and reliable networks with text and talk minutes. They’ll also have low-cost data packages and low monthly rates.

Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission program that provides a phone and internet service discount for low-income Americans. Its goal is to help families connect with the rest of the world and stay safe in emergencies. The program was first launched in 1985, and the FCC has made significant changes since then. In 2016, the agency under Chairman Tom Wheeler refocused the program on broadband and added a National Verifier to prevent fraud.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) replaced the previous EBB program and offers a monthly discount on broadband services and a one-time discount on a compatible device. In order to be eligible for the ACP, a household must already be enrolled in a standard eligibility program like SNAP, Section 8 Federal Public Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SSI, or Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit. Additionally, their income must be less than 135% of the poverty guideline.

Those interested in the program should apply through their chosen provider’s website or call their customer service department to see what services are available in their area. They must also verify their income by submitting the necessary documents.


The Lifeline Program provides discounted telephone service to low-income households. It is funded by the Universal Service Fund and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company. USAC handles data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the low-income program. The organization also hosts webinars for social service agencies and consumer advocacy groups to help them understand the program.

The cost of Lifeline depends on the type of phone and service plan you choose. The discount is only available for one line per household and can be used with either voice or broadband services. You may also bundle both services to save even more money. The discount includes a monthly bill credit and a federal subscriber line charge waiver. In some states, you can also get a discount on a device.

Besides the standard Lifeline phone and Internet discounts, New York State offers the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP provides a $30 monthly discount for broadband services and one-time discounts of up to $100 on laptops, desktop computers, and tablets. It also waives the monthly service fee for qualifying low-income households.