The Lifeline program was established by the Federal Communications Commission to provide affordable access to telecommunication services. It has allowed low-income consumers to receive discounts on telecommunication services since 1985.
The Lifeline Program supports telecommunications companies to keep all Americans connected. It ensures that everyone has access to the safety, security, and opportunities to connect to jobs, family and emergency services that phone services provide.
The Lifeline Program is funded by the Universal Service Fund (USF) which is funded by contributions from all interstate telecommunication carriers. Carriers usually collect the contributions from USF taxes added to monthly phone plans. The Lifeline program is not funded by American tax dollars or included in the federal budget.
Administered by the Federal Communications Commission
Managed by the Universal Service Administration Company
Service is available in 43 states and Puerto Rico.
Not available in Alaska, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, or Wyoming.
Assistance Programs. You’re eligible if you participate in any qualifying program, including Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, SNAP, SSI, Section 8, and Veterans & Survivors Pension Benefit members.
Low-Income. You’re eligible if you make 135% or less than the federal poverty guideline for your household size.
You’ll need to enter in your personal information, including your address, benefit program details, and income. You may be asked to upload documents for verification.
You’ll be able to Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) or Choose a New One. Free monthly plans apply to all BYOP plans.
If you want to keep your current phone, you’ll receive a new SIM card when your application is approved. Most GSM smartphones and unlocked devices are compatible.
If you want to use a new phone, you’ll receive the phone you picked out when you applied, already pre-activated.
You’re eligible for Lifeline services if you participate in a qualified assistance program or if your income falls below the 135% poverty threshold.