Please Note: We are currently updating the guidance on this page to reflect the rule changes in the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order. In the meantime, please visit the 2016 Lifeline Order page for relevant information.
There are two steps to recertifying subscribers each year:
- Recertify the eligibility of every subscriber (except in states where a state Lifeline Program administrator or other state agency is responsible for recertification of subscribers' Lifeline Program eligibility).
- Submit FCC Form 555 (Annual Lifeline Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Certification Form) to report the results of the annual subscriber recertification to USAC along with additional certifications regarding the accuracy of data submitted.
See the Lifeline Reform Order (FCC 12-11).
One: Recertify Subscriber Eligibility
Carriers must obtain recertification from each subscriber once in the calendar year. The recertification can be completed by the carrier or the carrier may elect for USAC to complete the recertification on their behalf.
Recertification is complete when a carrier has de-enrolled all non-responding and ineligible subscribers by December 31 of each year, and when all necessary updates to NLAD have been made within one business day of de-enrollment. Recertification is considered incomplete until the carrier has de-enrolled all non-responding or ineligible subscribers and updated NLAD appropriately.
Who needs to be recertified?
- Recertification must begin the calendar year after the subscriber initially enrolled in the Lifeline Program and continues on an annual basis while the subscriber is enrolled in the Lifeline Program.
- All active subscribers enrolled in the Lifeline Program prior to the start of the current calendar year and for whom a carrier sought reimbursement on its February FCC Form 497. Carriers are not responsible for recertifying subscribers who enrolled in January or February of the current calendar year, who were de-enrolled for non-usage, or who de-enrolled prior to the carrier's recertification attempt.
If you have any questions related to this process, please contact us via email.
- Carriers, or state agencies, must use any available database to verify continued subscriber eligibility, even if a database is only available for a subset of programs in a state. In the absence of a database, a carrier, or a state agency, must recertify the continued eligibility of a subscriber by obtaining a signed certification from the subscriber that meets the requirements of 47 CFR Section 54.410(d).
- Carriers must notify subscribers in writing, separate from the subscriber's monthly bill (if applicable), using clear, easily understood language that failure to respond to the recertification request within thirty days of the date of the request will trigger de-enrollment from the Lifeline Program.
- Carriers must ensure their recertification requests comply with all certification and notice requirements of 47 CFR Section 54.410(d).
- If a subscriber does not respond to the carrier's recertification request within thirty days, the carrier must de-enroll the subscriber from the Lifeline Program within five business days after the expiration of the subscriber's time to respond to the recertification efforts. Within one business day of de-enrollment, carriers must also remove the subscriber from NLAD.
See Public Notice (DA 16-347), footnote 12, and "Wireline Competition Bureau Reminds Carriers That They Must Re-certify Eligibility of All Lifeline Subscribers by December 31, 2016" (WC Docket No. 11-42) for more detailed information.
Four Methods to Recertify Subscriber Eligibility
- Choose USAC to conduct your annual recertification.
If a carrier chooses to recertify their own subscribers, they are required to use one of the three methods outlined below.
- Query appropriate eligibility databases to confirm a subscriber still meets program-based eligibility requirements. Document the results of this process.
- Query appropriate income databases to confirm a subscriber still meets income-based eligibility requirements. Document the results of this process.
- Obtain a signed certification from the subscriber that they still meet eligibility requirements.
Two: Submit FCC Form 555
The FCC Form 555 must be completed annually by carriers to certify the accuracy of data submitted to USAC and to certify the results of the annual subscriber recertification. Carriers must provide a separate FCC Form 555 for each SAC used to provide Lifeline Program service.
Wireless carriers that offer Lifeline Program-supported service free-of-charge to subscribers must file the FCC Form 555 to report the number of subscribers de-enrolled for non-usage. This should be completed in Section 4 of the FCC Form 555 for each month that the carrier provided service in the year.
How to File
Carriers can file the FCC Form 555 online with USAC through E-File
. The FCC Form 555, instructions, and online user guide
are available on the Lifeline Program's Forms
page. The online FCC Form 555 allows for single form entry and certification as well as bulk entry and bulk certification for carriers submitting forms for multiple SACs.
Carriers must also file a copy of their FCC Form 555 with the FCC by filing the form in Docket 14-171, using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System.
The FCC Form 555 certification is due annually to USAC by January 31. If January 31 falls on a Federal holiday or weekend, the FCC Form 555 will be due the next business day.