The Lifeline Program: Making Communication More Affordable

Being a well-known federal government initiative that helps many low-income communities across America, the Lifeline program seeks to make wireless and landline telephone communication affordable to those qualify for the program. The benefits of the program also extend to voice-broadband bundled services and broadband internet.


Those who would be interested and sincerely need the Lifeline program need to meet an income requirement of making 135% less than the standard indicated in the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If you and/or a member of your household is registered in one or more the following programs, you will qualify for the Lifeline program: (1) Supplemental Security Income (SSI), (2) Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), (3) Medicaid, (4) Tribal Programs, (5) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), (6) Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit. It is required that when you apply you provide all documents relating to your income and mentioning what programs you are in.

Application Process

The application process is fairly simple. Every applicant must complete an application on the National Verifier application system. Used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and run by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), this state-of-the-art centralized system is used to verify if an applicant is eligible to be included in the program.

Some US states are not included in the digital National Verifier program and if you are living in one of those states or if you would like to explore alternative options to complete the application process, you will find more information here.

Cell Phone/Landline Service Providers

Lifeline works with two main cell phone providers SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless. Both companies offer generous packages not only for those who are in the Lifeline program, but those who are either on food stamps or Medicaid. As for landlines, some of the biggest telephone companies, including AT&T and CenturyLink are included in the Lifeline program and you can find a complete list here.

Know Your Rights

If you are accepted into the Lifeline program, you are entitled to certain rights that your service provider is supposed to accommodate, which includes: (1) providing at least 1000 minutes for cell phones, (2) internet at home should have a speed of 25/3 Mbps with a minimum usage of 1024 GB on a monthly basis (3) a cell phone data plan of 3G and the right to use 4.5 GB on a monthly basis.