To be eligible for the Lifeline program, a federal program that offers phone service discounts to low-income households, consumers must meet the income requirements or already participate in a qualifying assistance program. To enroll in the Lifeline program, consumers apply directly to phone service providers.
Individuals or households whose incomes are 135 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines qualify for phone service assistance under the Lifeline program, as of 2015. Those enrolled in Medicaid, Supplementary Security Income, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Federal Public Housing Assistance or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program are automatically eligible. Other programs that provide Lifeline eligibility include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the National School Lunch Program, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance and Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The Universal Service Administrative Company administers the Lifeline program. On its website there is an eligibility screening tool for consumers to assess whether their households are eligible for the program. To apply to local telecommunications companies participating in the Lifeline program, consumers should select the state they reside in on the website's interactive map and click on the name of the participating provider whose service they require. Consumers must have documentation verifying their eligibility for the program when they apply and must reaffirm their eligibility each year.