The Lifeline program is controlled by our Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Due to the suspicion of fraudulent use and abuse of the program, the FCC on February 6 of 2012 released a reform
of Lifeline which enacted many changes to Lifeline. In an attempt to simplify the qualifications for
lifeline, a uniform set of requirements to qualify were set forth. There is an allowance for individual
states to estabilish their own qualifications in addition to the Federal ones.
If you or someone in your household is currently enjoying benefits from at least one of these Federal default programs (seen below), you qualify for the Lifeline program. Additionally, there may be more qualifying programs offered by your state that are not listed on this page. Check your state for other criteria.
If no one in your household is enrolled in one of these programs, you might still be qualified based of the total income for your household. The Federal default requirement is that household income does not exceed 135% of the poverty level (table is shown below). Some states make a more generous income requirement of 150% of the poverty line.
Per the new Lifeline order, those seeking the Lifeline subsidy based on program eligility
(such as SNAP, Medicaid etc), will need to show proof of participation in that program. This will not be necessary in
those states that provide an eligibilty database to phone service providers. If database access is available to the
provider you are applying to and, you are matched in that
database, you will not need proof. For those needing to supply
proof, a list of acceptable forms of proof can be found on this
page in the left column.
If you qualify because of your income level, you will need to show proof of your total household income. (See the acceptable forms of proof to the left on this page)
Federal Poverty Guidelines at 135% for 2018
|Persons in Household||Lower 48
|Per Add'l Person||$5,832|
*Household is described as a person or a group of people who live together at
one address as a single economic unit.
An Economic unit is described as all adults who share and contribute to income & expenses.
What about activation costs?
There was a program called Link-Up that provided assistance with the activation costs associated with getting a new phone line turned on. As part of the reform order recently published by the FCC, the Link-up program for non-Tribal lands was eliminated. The order to eliminate Link-up went into effect on April 2, 2012.
Proof of Program Participation
Acceptable forms of proof of participation in a qualifying program are:
Proof of Income
Acceptable forms of proof of income are: