Lifeline and Link Up help people receive free phone service or service at a reduced cost. The woman in our video received a free cell phone and 200 free minutes and 100 free text messages each month! Lifeline provides qualified consumers with a discount on monthly charges for their primary home phone line, even if it's a cell phone. If you qualify for this program, Lifeline can save you at least $10 a month on your phone bills, depending on what state you live in and which phone company in your area provides this program. Some states provide more discounts to make local telephone service even more affordable. To determine if your state offers these additional discounts, contact your state's public utility commission, www.naruc.org/commissions.cfm. Link-Up lowers the cost eligible consumers pay for setting up new phone service at their home, including cell phone service. Link-Up pays up to $30.00 of a qualified consumer's home phone startup fees (even if it's a cell phone), not including the cost of the phone. Link-Up also lets consumers borrow up to $200 of set-up fees, interest-free, for up to one year.
These discounts are available to qualifying consumers throughout the country, although eligibility requirements vary from state to state. Some states have broader categories for eligibility so that more people will qualify. That is why it is important to know how your state runs these programs. To find out the criteria for your state, go to www.lifelinesupport.org/li/low-income/lifelinesupport/browser/.
If your state uses the federal categories, those standards require either that consumers have a total household income that does not exceed 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines OR that they participate in one of the following programs:
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or
- The National School Lunch Programs Free Lunch Program
For a Family of 4, your income can be as high as $30,173
Contact your local telephone company to make sure that you qualify for these benefits in your state and to request an application form. If your local telephone company is not authorized to provide Lifeline or Link-Up discounts in your area, contact your state public utility commission or consumer advocate office to locate an authorized service provider. To find the Public Utility Commission where you live, click on this link: www.naruc.org/commissions.cfm. More than 1,500 telephone companies in the United States and its territories participate in the federal Lifeline and Link-Up Programs for income-eligible households. In addition to traditional telephone service providers, many new competitive local exchange carriers and wireless telephone service providers are now authorized to provide Lifeline and Link-Up discounts to eligible consumers.
Contact Lifeline at 888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or online at http://lifeline.gov