Lifeline

Verify Subscriber Eligibility

Program Eligibility

If a customer uses a qualifying program as proof of eligibility for the Lifeline Program benefit, request documentation from the program to verify their eligibility, and save it for your records.

Qualifying programs until December 1, 2016:

Qualifying programs December 2, 2016 and later:

Acceptable Forms of Documentation

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP was previously known as Food Stamps. Beneficiary cards and award letters may vary because SNAP is administered on the state level. Not all beneficiary cards include the recipient's name, so it is recommended that carriers use an award letter from the local state agency to verify participation.

All award letters should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary, and
  • Date of the award.

The beneficiary named on the SNAP documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

In some states, SNAP might be more commonly referred to by a different name. Look for your state on this list of SNAP program names by state.

Medicaid

Each state provides its own unique Medicaid card to beneficiaries. However, most cards should clearly state the following:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • State of the residence,
  • Issued or effective date, and
  • Name of the state agency that provided the card.

The beneficiary named on the Medicaid documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Some states have different names for their Medicaid programs. If you are unsure of the acceptability of a particular program, please look for your state on this list of Medicaid program names by state or contact USAC for additional guidance.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Participation in federal SSI is an eligibility criterion for Lifeline-supported service. Some states offer state supplements to the federal SSI program, but receiving benefits from the state supplement (without receiving federal SSI benefits) does not qualify an individual for Lifeline Program-supported service.

All federal award letters should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary,
  • Date of the award, and
  • Award amount.

A benefit check stub from the Social Security Administration may also be submitted as proof of participation, if the check stub clearly states the date and name of the beneficiary.

The beneficiary named on the SSI documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)

There are two types of documentation that can prove receipt of benefits under the Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) programs.

First, the customer can provide an award letter. A recipient of Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) receives an award letter from his or her local Public Housing Agency (PHA). The award letter should include the following information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Date of the award,
  • Name of the beneficiary, and
  • Award amount.

Second, the customer can provide a Public Housing Assistance Lease Agreement. This documentation should clearly reflect the type of Public Housing Assistance credit issued.

The beneficiary named on the Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

If the beneficiary does not have an award letter, lease agreement, or voucher, they may contact the agency that approved the application and request formal documentation of the award. To find contact information for a local Public Housing Agency, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's state contact and agency listing.

Federal Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension

Beginning December 2, 2016, the Federal Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension is a qualifying program for the Lifeline benefit.

Some states offer a veterans pension, however, only the Federal Veterans Pension (and Federal Survivors Pension) qualifies customers for the Lifeline benefit. Customers that receive a federal pension may show documentation demonstrating their receipt of a federal veterans pension, including:

  • Pension Grant Letter: The letter shows the participant's name, address, a decision about their monthly entitlement amount and payment start date.
  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Letter: The letter shows a monthly/quarterly/semi-annual/annual payment rate and an effective date.
  • Survivors Benefit Summary Letter: Survivors receive this letter shortly after being approved for a pension. It includes the survivor's claim number, the related veteran's name, and monthly award amount.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Beginning December 2, 2016, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is no longer a qualifying program for the Lifeline benefit.

Because the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is administered by a wide range of local agencies, the program's name may vary by state (note that most include the words, "energy assistance program" in the name).

There are two types of documentation applicants can provide to demonstrate receipt of LIHEAP benefits.

First, a LIHEAP participant might have an award letter from a state agency. The award letter will include the following:

  • Name of the program,
  • Date of the award,
  • Name of the beneficiary, and
  • Award amount.

In some instances, if the beneficiary receives notification of his or her approval in-person, the awardee might not have a formal award letter and will need to contact the state agency that approved the application to request a formal award letter.

Second, a LIHEAP participant can provide a utility bill that reflects the housing assistance credit. The utility bill should clearly reflect inclusion of an energy assistance credit.

The beneficiary named on the LIHEAP documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

To find contact information for a local LIHEAP agency, please visit the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program's state or territory agency listing or Indian Tribe or Tribal organization listing.

National School Lunch Program's (NSLP) free lunch program

Beginning December 2, 2016, National School Lunch Program's (NSLP) free lunch program is no longer a qualifying program for the Lifeline benefit.

Although the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally-assisted program, award letters are provided by state agencies and will vary by locality.

All award letters should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary, and
  • Date of the award.

The beneficiary named on the NSLP documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Beginning December 2, 2016, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is no longer a qualifying benefit program.

All award letters should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary, and
  • Date of the award.

The beneficiary named on the TANF documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

In some states, TANF might be more commonly referred to by a different name. Look for your state on this list of TANF program names by state.

Acceptable Forms of Documentation for Tribal Programs

Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance

A beneficiary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance Program receives an award letter from the national or regional BIA office.

A benefit check stub from the BIA may also be submitted as proof of participation, if the check stub clearly states the date and name of the beneficiary and that the benefit received is BIA General Assistance.

The beneficiary named on the BIA General Assistance documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

All award letters should contain the following basic information:

  • Name of the program,
  • Name of the beneficiary,
  • Address of the beneficiary, and
  • Date of the award.

The beneficiary named on the TANF documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Tribal Head Start

Head Start Program eligibility only refers to those households that have already met the income-qualifying standard.

A letter of participation or enrollment confirmation in a Tribal Head Start Program will include the name of the child, who may be the consumer's dependent or a member of the consumer's household.

Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

Although the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) is a federal program, administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), award letters are generally provided by either an Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) or another state agency.

Valid documentation of participation in the FDPIR includes:

  • Notice of Action (award letter) acknowledging eligibility for FDPIR benefits;
  • FDPIR participation documents (e.g., a benefit card or copy of a benefit card); or
  • Letter from the administering agency confirming participation in FDPIR.

All award letters, or other official notices of eligibility, should include the following:

  • Name of the beneficiary;
  • The beginning and ending dates of the award or certification period; and
  • The telephone number of the Food Distribution Program office, and the name and address of the person to contact for additional information.

The beneficiary named on the FDPIR documentation may be the consumer, the consumer's dependent, or a member of the consumer's household.

Read this list of state agency contacts for FDPIR to learn more.