Lifeline Rules & Rights

By signing up for Lifeline, you agree to follow the program’s rules and your company agrees to give you fair, high-quality service.

Program Rules

Prove your eligibility.

Lifeline is only available to subscribers who can prove their eligibility. When you sign up for Lifeline, you must show proof of participation in a qualifying program or proof of income.

One discount per household.

Only one discount is allowed per household. A "household" is a group of people who live together and share income and expenses.

Stay with your company for a minimum period.

If you use Lifeline for voice service, you must stay with your company for at least 60 days before you can switch Lifeline to a new company (some exceptions apply). If you use Lifeline for internet or mobile data, you must stay with your company for at least one year before you can switch Lifeline to a new company (some exceptions apply).

Recertify/Renew every year.

If your company asks you to recertify (renew Lifeline), you must do so within 60 days, or you’ll lose your Lifeline discount. Some companies will ask you with a letter, text message, or other, and some companies will recertify/renew your discount automatically.

Use it or lose it.

If your Lifeline-supported service is free, use it at least once every 30 days. If you don't, you will get a 15-day notice to use it or it will get turned off.

Keep your company up-to-date.

If you change your address, no longer qualify for Lifeline, or more than one person in your household gets Lifeline, notify your company within 30 days.

Be honest on your application and forms.

It is against the law to lie on any Lifeline-related forms or questionnaires.

Your Rights

As a Lifeline customer, you are entitled to:

The minimum service standards.

Your company is required to meet these standards on Lifeline-supported services:

  • For cell phones: At least 500 minutes
  • For mobile internet (a data plan): Speed of 3G or better, and usage of at least 500 MB per month
The choice of a hotspot-enabled device.

Your company must have at least one device with hotspot functionality available for data plans.

Choose which service uses Lifeline.

If you are buying a bundle, you can choose to apply Lifeline to the voice or the internet service.

Change companies.

You can change companies after your minimum period ends (60 days for voice service, one year for internet). You may be able to change companies at any time if:

  • You move
  • Your company stops operating or fails to provide service
  • Your late fees are higher than the monthly charge (e.g., the bill is $20, and the late fees are $21)
  • Your company broke Lifeline rules and you are affected
Get answers and help.

If your company is unresponsive or refuses to help you, contact your state’s public utility regulator, USAC, or the FCC to complain.