LI Program News - January 17, 2018

January 17, 2018


Benefit Port Freeze Rule Eliminated


Effective March 19, 2018, the Lifeline Program's benefit port freeze rule will be eliminated. The rule first went into effect on December 2, 2016, and it required Lifeline subscribers to remain with their service provider for at least 60 days (for voice service) or 12 months (for broadband service) after initiating service to continue receiving the Lifeline benefit.


At that time, the port freeze functionality will be removed from the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). USAC will not implement an administrative port freeze in NLAD.


This rule change is part of the FCC's fourth report and order, which was published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2018.



FCC Form 555 Due January 31, 2018


FCC Form 555, the "Annual Lifeline Eligible Telecommunication Carrier Certification Form," is due Wednesday, January 31, 2018 to USAC, state regulatory commissions, and the FCC. All Lifeline service providers are required to file one FCC Form 555 per study area code (SAC).




The form must be completed and submitted using USAC's E-File system (USAC recommends using E-File in Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer 10). Bulk upload and single-form entry options are both available.

Available FCC Form 555 resources include:


New Reimbursement Claims System Available February 1


The Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be deployed on January 31 for the February 1 NLAD subscriber snapshot. Lifeline reimbursement claims for the January 2018 data month (February 1 snapshot) must be submitted online the new Lifeline Claims System (LCS) process. This change affects all states and territories, and is not coupled with the rollout of the National Verifier.

Users will log into the Lifeline Claims System via NLAD using their existing 497 login credentials. To register your company in E-File for the first time, visit the E-File homepage and select "E-File," then select "new service provider" from the bottom menu.

With this change, FCC Form 497 is retired and paper/email submissions are no longer accepted. Going forward, service providers will use FCC Form 497 to submit/revise claims only for the December 2017 data month and earlier.

The new Lifeline Claims System process uses the NLAD subscriber snapshot to determine support payments (service providers can only claim reimbursement for subscribers that are active in NLAD on the snapshot date). Because of this, it's important to keep NLAD up-to-date per the Lifeline Program's rules.

Service providers in "NLAD Opt-Out" states (California, Oregon, and Texas) should select the tab, "Opt-Out State: File or Revise Claim" in the Lifeline Claims System.

To learn more about the new Lifeline Claims System (LCS) process, visit the Receive Reimbursement Payment web page, watch the January 10 webinar recording or the August 2017 webinar recording.


USAC Names Radha Sekar as CEO


The USAC board of directors and the FCC appointed Radha Sekar as the Chief Executive Officer of USAC, effective January 2, 2018.

Ms. Sekar has extensive experience in IT, finance, and executive management across multiple government agencies. Since 2015, she served as the CFO for both the Farm Service Administration and the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw a $30 billion budget in borrowing authority and another credit portfolio of $40 billion.

Read the full press release in USAC's Latest News feed.


Qualifying Lifeline Consumers with Gross Income


A consumer may be eligible for Lifeline if they have a household income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The Lifeline Program rules (Section 54.400(f)) define income as "gross income as defined under section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C 61, for all members of the household," and the IRS section that is referenced states, "gross income means all income from whatever sources derived."

If a consumer claims eligibility based on income, the service provider must review documentation that demonstrates the consumer's annual gross household income. For example, on a tax return (IRS Form 1040), service providers should review "Line 22 - Total Income," which shows gross income before any deductions. For supplemental security income (SSI), service providers should review the total income amount, and not the gross adjusted amount.

If the consumer does not have the documentation of their income that covers a full year, alternatively, they can provide documentation covering three consecutive months within the previous year. Learn more on the Income Eligibility page of the Lifeline Program website.


Universal Service Funds Moving to the U.S. Treasury


In the second quarter of 2018, USAC will move its banking services for the Universal Service Fund from its current banking institution to the U.S. Treasury. After the transfer, USAC will no longer accept payments to, or distribute funds from, its current bank account.

For those receiving payments from USAC, no changes are needed at this time. Payments will continue to be made via Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers and will continue to be identified as coming from USAC. In early 2018, USAC will provide additional information on the exact timing of the transfer to the U.S. Treasury. Transfer information is available on the USF Funds Transfer page of the USAC website.


Webinar on February 14: Lifeline Program Update


Join us on Wednesday, February 14 for our next monthly Lifeline Program webinar. The topic is "Lifeline 101," where we will give an overview of the Lifeline Program.

You can always access the webinar slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Trainings and Outreach page.


Lifeline Program Newsletter

January 2018

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