As of 2015, consumers qualify for the Lifeline wireless program for phone discounts by having an income at 135 percent of the federal poverty line or below. Customers also qualify by taking part in federal or state assistance programs. The Lifeline Program allows each eligible household one discounted phone service.
Consumers with low incomes throughout the United States, including its territories and tribal lands, can apply for the Lifeline Program. Assistance programs whose participants qualify for the program include Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Federal Public Housing Assistance and Low-Income Energy Assistance Program. Those enrolled in Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are also eligible. Some state assistance programs may qualify households as well.
The Universal Service Administrative Company administers the Lifeline Program, and consumers can use an online tool at the LifelineSupport.org to assess their eligibility. Once they determine that they are qualified for the program, consumers can use an interactive map on the website to locate telecommunications companies that participate in the program. They then apply directly to the telecommunications company for the Lifeline discount. To continue to receive the discount, households must re-certify their eligibility each year by responding to notices that the telecommunications company sends by phone, mail or text message.