Announcements

December 9, 2019
National Verifier Will Soft Launch in 5 Additional States – December 2019 Soft Launch

Today the FCC and USAC announced that the Lifeline National Verifier will soft launch in Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin on Monday, December 16.

At that time, service providers in these December 2019 soft launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.

During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.

December 4, 2019
Exciting Lifeline System Updates

Lifeline Multifactor Authentication

Beginning Wednesday, December 4, Lifeline IT applications including the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), the National Verifier, and the Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will use a Multifactor authentication (MFA) to increase the security of the systems. USAC also launched a single portal dashboard so that users can access all of their USF IT applications through the same sign-on process.

National Verifier service provider users may continue to access the National Verifier portal at CheckLifeline.org and now have the option to also access the service provider portal through OnePortal. NLAD and LCS users may only access these systems through OnePortal. Please note that consumers will continue to access the National Verifier consumer portal as normal via CheckLifeline.org.  

RAD Released to Production 

Beginning Wednesday, December 4, RAD was released in the production environment for optional use.

With the release, service providers have the option to:

  • Link a Representative ID to new or existing NLAD and National Verifier accounts, and
  • Include a linked Representative ID when performing enroll, transfer, and other transactions. 

Representatives may continue to register for a Representative ID here.

For more information on today’s changes, review our November monthly webinar.

At this time, use of RAD is fully voluntary. RAD will be mandatory when the FCC’s enrollment representative rule becomes effective. The rule will become effective 90 days after the Lifeline Fifth Report and Order is published in the Federal Register.

November 26, 2019
Lifeline – November 2019 Newsletter

National Verifier Makes Significant Strides in Automatic Program Eligibility

USAC is making significant progress with the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier). Since the first launch, nearly one million applications have been submitted to the National Verifier. With the addition of the nationwide Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) connection, the majority of Americans who apply for the Lifeline program are automatically deemed eligible for the program.

With the launch of CMS, the National Verifier yields an average automated pass rate of 73% nationwide. 

In states where both federal and state connections are available, we are seeing automated pass rates above 78%. This means that 78% of consumers who apply in these state are automatically proven eligible for the Lifeline benefit based on their participation in a qualifying program, such as Medicaid or SNAP.

In states without local connections, the average automated pass rate is 64%. In some of these states, such as Alaska and Delaware, we are seeing an average of a 70% or higher pass rate after adding the CMS connection.

USAC’s connection to CMS furthers USAC’s program integrity efforts and improves the application experience for consumers who would otherwise have to submit documentation to receive Lifeline.

October Launches 

In October, USAC successfully conducted a National Verifier soft and full launch. The National Verifier soft launched on Friday, October 11 in the October 2019 launch states and territory.

  • October 2019 Launch: AL, AR, LA, MD, MA, NJ, OK, PR, SC, and WA

Additionally, on Wednesday, October 23, the National Verifier fully launched in the June 2019 launch states.

  • June 2019 Launch: AZ, CT, GA, IA, KA, NE, NV, NY, VT, VA, and WV

Additional State Connections Added

The National Verifier connected to SNAP databases in South Carolina and Virginia this month. These states will now benefit from state connections in addition to our federal connections with HUD and CMS. USAC is grateful to our state partners who made these connections possible.  

Reverification Still In Progress; Strong Numbers Seen  

As more states and territories are brought into the National Verifier, USAC continues to conduct Reverification. Reverification is the one-time check USAC conducts to ensure existing subscribers are eligible for the benefit.

Reverification is still ongoing, but an update on progress made was shared with USAC Board Members this fall. Overall, we have seen an 80% success rate for reverification in the first five launch states and territories thus far. Success rates will increase as more subscribers are confirmed eligible.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Released into NLAD Production

In early December, RAD will be released into the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) production environment. Using RAD in the production environment will be fully optional at this time.

With the release, service providers will have the option to:

  • Link a Representative ID to new or existing NLAD and National Verifier accounts, and
  • Include a linked Representative ID when performing enroll, transfer, and other transactions.

ETC Administrators and 497 Officers will notice some changes in NLAD when they create or update subaccounts. When creating an account, a new field for “Representative ID” will be visible. This field is optional – carriers may choose to provide a user’s Representative ID or to wait until a later time. If a Representative ID is linked to the account, any transactions submitted using that account will track the Representative ID.

Likewise, service providers will have the option of using the Representative ID with their NLAD and National Verifier API transactions. For more information on these upcoming changes, review our November monthly webinar.

Please note that registration for a Representative ID is still voluntary at this time, and service providers that do not link their accounts to Representative IDs in the production environment will be able to perform transactions as normal. Service providers will not receive any errors associated with a Representative ID.

Representatives may continue to register for a Representative ID here, and service providers should continue to test linking Representative IDs and performing transactions with test Representative IDs in the NLAD staging (pre-production) environment.

Use of RAD will be mandatory when the FCC’s enrollment representative rule becomes effective. The rule will become effective 90 days after the Lifeline Fifth Report and Order is published in the Federal Register.

System User Updates: Increased Security & More Convenience

On December 4, USAC will release two IT application updates to enhance the user experience for Lifeline service providers. Lifeline consumers will not be affected.

The two new features are multifactor authentication (MFA) and a single portal dashboard.

The multifactor authentication (MFA) will increase the security of Lifeline IT applications such as NLAD, the National Verifier and the Lifeline Claims System. MFA helps safeguard access to data and applications; and provides additional security by requiring a second form of user authentication.

USAC will also launch a single portal dashboard so that service providers can access all of their Universal Service Fund (USF) IT applications through the same sign-on process. Service provider representatives will be able to perform password resets through the single sign-on portal, no longer requiring a Lifeline administrator to perform the task. 

Effective, December 4, 2019, service providers using NLAD, EPC, E-File, and My Portal will access their accounts from the usac.org website homepage via the sign-in button.

This button will direct users to the single portal dashboard.

To prepare for the single portal update, service provider users should confirm that the email and password on their Lifeline accounts are up-to-date and that each user has a unique login for each system. 

If you need to update your Lifeline accounts, please work with your organization’s Lifeline system administrator to make any changes.

No action is needed for users whose login information is up to date. Expect to receive MFA log in instructions from USAC on December 4.

Special Note on Passwords

The process to create a new Lifeline user account for NLAD and the National Verifier will not change – Lifeline system administrators will continue to create user accounts. However, Lifeline system administrators will no longer be required to reset user passwords. System users will be able to reset their own passwords if necessary. Account lockouts (five failed attempts to log in) will require a reset by the ETC administrator.

Service providers will also retain the ability to log in to the National Verifier through checklifeline.org. Consumers will not be affected by these changes, and will continue to access the National Verifier through checklifeline.org.

For questions regarding these changes, please contact lifelineSupport@usac.org.

Minimum Service Standards

Revised Lifeline Minimum Service Standards  will take effect on December 1, 2019. A recent Order released by the FCC partially grants carriers relief from these scheduled changes. A summary of the new requirements is provided below by service type:

Date
 
 
Mobile Voice
 
 
Mobile Broadband
 
 
Fixed Broadband
 
 
Voice
Support (Per Month)
 
 
Broadband Support (Per Month)
 
 
December 1, 2019
 
 
1000 Minutes
 
 
Speed: 3G
Data Usage:
3 GB /Month

 
 
Speed: 20/3 Mbps
Data Usage:
1024 GB /Month
 
 
$7.25
 
 
$9.25
 
 

When should we update our service offerings?

The new minimum service levels are effective December 1st. As not all customers are on a first of the month billing cycle, carriers must provide the new level of service to their Lifeline subscribers during the month of December, but not necessarily on the first of the month, to meet the standards and claim reimbursement. Service providers must update NLAD within 10 days of making a change to the consumer’s service type. USAC will rely upon the service type reflected in the January 1st NLAD Snapshot to calculate reimbursements for the December data month.

What happens to a subscriber with Lifeline-supported services that do not meet the new minimum service standards?

Service providers are not permitted to apply Lifeline support to services that do not meet the minimum service standards. Service providers must update the subscriber’s service to meet the minimum standard or discontinue the Lifeline discount for the non-qualifying service.

Lifeline Support is prepared to answer questions regarding these changes. If you have questions about the administrative process, please see our website or email us at LifelineSupport@usac.org.

FCC Form 555 Updates and Reminders

The 2019 FCC Form 555 (Annual Lifeline ETC Certification Form) is due Friday, January 31, 2020 to USAC, the FCC (Docket 14-171), and state regulatory commissions.

December Monthly Webinar: FCC Form 555

Join us on Wednesday, December 11 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will provide an overview of the FCC Form 555 and a walk-through of how to complete it.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Lifeline Support Center: Holiday Hours

The Lifeline Support Center will be closed for the following holidays:

  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)
  • New Year’s Day (Wednesday, January 1)

On these holidays, the support center will be unavailable for calls and emails and no manual reviews of Lifeline applications will be completed.


November 22, 2019
Resolved: National Verifier Intermittent Connectivity Issues

Connectivity to the National Verifier is fully restored. USAC has been monitoring the issues closely and was able to stabilize the system. Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email LifelineProgram@usac.org.

November 21, 2019
Update: National Verifier Intermittent Connectivity Issues

USAC has been monitoring the National Verifier closely and has seen continued improvements.

As USAC works to restore system performance, service providers will notice a change when logging into the National Verifier service provider portal. On the user’s dashboard upon logging in, only applications that have been created or accessed within the previous seven (7) days will now appear. USAC will monitor these changes and make further changes as necessary to ensure optimal system performance. USAC will also provide an update when access to the system is fully restored.

We understand in some instances a service provider may need to see applications older than seven days. To do so, please click “New Application” and enter the consumer PII. The application will then appear.

November 20, 2019
Update: Intermittent Connectivity Issues in the National Verifier

National Verifier users may continue to experience intermittent connectivity issues. These may prevent users from completing eligibility checks in the National Verifier portal. This may also affect Lifeline Support Center review times. USAC is actively working to resolve this and will provide an update once access to the system is fully restored.

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is not impacted. Access to this system should be fully restored. If you continue to experience issues, please email LifelineProgram@usac.org.

November 19, 2019
FCC Partially Grants Lifeline Service Standards Relief

The FCC released an order today that partially grants carriers relief from the Minimum Service Standards change that is due to take effect on December 1, 2019.

The FCC waives the rule to the extent it would establish a minimum service standard greater than 3 GB per month, beginning on December 1, 2019. The FCC finds that Petitioners have not shown that good cause exists to halt the scheduled phase-down of support for Lifeline voice service, and they therefore deny that portion of the Petition.

To read the order, click here.

November 19, 2019
Intermittent Connectivity Issues in the National Verifier and NLAD

The National Verifier and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) are experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. Users may have issues completing eligibility checks in the National Verifier service provider portal and performing transactions in NLAD.

USAC is actively working to resolve this issue and will provide an update tomorrow morning (November 20). We apologize for the inconvenience.

November 15, 2019
FCC Releases Fifth Report and Order Thursday, November 14

On Thursday, November 14, the FCC released the Fifth Order and Report on “Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers; Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization; Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support” to further strengthen Lifeline Program Integrity. This order focuses on respecting the States’ role in program administration and improving Program Integrity in the program enrollment and recertification.

November 13, 2019
November System Maintenance Schedule

Reminder: Scheduled System Maintenance, November 15

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to November’s monthly maintenance starting Friday, November 15 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS staging (pre-production) and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

National Verifier Scheduled System Maintenance, November 22

The National Verifier staging and production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Friday, November 22 from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s staging and production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the staging and production environments.

October 29, 2019
Lifeline Program October Newsletter

October 2019 States Soft Launch in the National Verifier
On October 11, the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) soft launched in the following states and territory:
• Alabama
• Arkansas
• Louisiana
• Maryland
• Massachusetts
• New Jersey
• Oklahoma
• Puerto Rico
• South Carolina
• Washington

At this time, service providers in the October 2019 launch can begin using the National Verifier to determine subscriber eligibility through the service provider portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or by sending paper forms to the Lifeline Support Center.

During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility verification procedures if they choose.

Service providers can visit the National Verifier page for additional information about the soft launch period including a pre-production user guide, instructions to create National Verifier credentials, and information about upcoming training sessions.

June Group Fully Launches in the National Verifier
The National Verifier fully launched in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia on October 23.

Service providers in these states must use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program.

Consumers in this launch can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier consumer portal online at CheckLifeline.org or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center, in addition to applying through the service provider portal.

For more information specific to the June 2019 launch, visit USAC’s website.

Carrier API – Phase II of Testing Announced
Phase II of the National Verifier Carrier APIs is available for testing in the staging (pre-production) environment. With the release of the second phase of testing, service providers will be able to test using the APIs to initiate and complete an application for all consumers, including those required to upload documents directly with USAC to resolve application errors.

Carriers can proceed with testing using the requests and mock data provided in the API Specifications. The latest version of the API Specifications will be available in the “Reports and Tools” section of the left hand navigation panel upon logging into NLAD.

Service providers should use the following service URL to point their request towards the staging (pre-production) environment: https://api-stg.universalservice.org/nvca-svc/.

For additional background information and introductory materials describing the National Verifier APIs, please visit USAC’s website and view the “National Verifier Carrier API – Phase 2 Training” webinar.

Production Release of New Hostname for NLAD API
On October 28, 2019, NLAD API users may begin using the new NLAD API hostname in the production environment. The new hostname is being implemented to improve the security and performance of the NLAD system. Testing of the hostname has been available in the staging (pre-production) environment since late September.

To prepare for this change, service providers should alert their technical teams. Business partners whose enrollment or billing system interacts with NLAD via API should also be informed of this milestone.

This production release is the second of a three-step rollout process for the new hostname. On November 25, 2019 use of the new host name will be required in both the staging and production environments. The current hostname will no longer work and any NLAD transactions submitted using the old request will fail.

Updated NLAD API specifications are now available in NLAD to reflect this change. Please encourage your technical teams and/or billing partners to review section 2.1, “Service URLs,” for details.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates
In early December, USAC will make RAD available for use in the production environment. Using RAD in the production environment will be fully optional for the time being. Service providers will have the option to link a Representative ID to new or existing NLAD and National Verifier accounts and to include a linked Representative ID when performing enroll, transfer, and other transactions.

While use of RAD is fully optional for the time being, ETC Administrators and 497 Officers will notice some changes in NLAD when they create or update subaccounts. When creating an account, a new field for “Representative ID” will be visible. This field is optional – carriers may choose to provide a user’s Representative ID or to wait until a later time. If a Representative ID is linked to the account, any transactions submitted using that account will track the Representative ID.

Likewise, service providers will have the option of using the Representative ID with their NLAD and National Verifier API transactions.

Please note that registration for a Representative ID is still voluntary at this time, and service providers that do not link their accounts to Representative IDs in the production environment will be able to perform transactions as normal and will not receive any errors associated with a Representative ID.

For more information on the December RAD release, join our next monthly webinar, which will provide an overview of changes related to RAD released thus far and details on what changes service providers should expect in December. Representatives may continue to register for a Representative ID here, and service providers should continue to test linking Representative IDs and performing transactions with test Representative IDs in the NLAD staging (pre-production) environment.

November Monthly Webinar: RAD Updates

Join us on Wednesday, November 13 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will provide an overview of RAD, updates made thus far, and more information on the forthcoming December system changes.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn Webinars page. To review previous RAD training sessions, visit the RAD Resources page.

Coming Soon: Updated USAC Website
USAC will publish updated websites (USAC.org and the Lifeline program consumer site, LifelineSupport.org) on Monday, November 11. The redesign of the website’s homepage will put key dates and resources up front. Simple navigation panes will take you to the information you need. The new site also improves search functionality, making it easier to find resources, and responds to all operating systems and mobile devices. Additionally, it complies with 508 accessibility standards.

Beginning Monday, November 11:

All USAC.org URLs (besides the USAC.org main page) will change.

•    Any saved hyperlinks or bookmarks to Lifeline web content will redirect users to the USAC.org main page. This includes PDFs and CSV templates.

 •    At that time, users will be able to visit USAC.org to find updated URLs for Lifeline and other USAC web content.

 •    These changes only affect the main USAC.org site and LifelineSupport.org.

 o    The Companies Near Me tool URL will remain the same.

 o    All Lifeline system URLs, including those to the National Verifier production and pre-production, NLAD production and pre-production, LCS production and pre-production, and RAD will remain the same.

To view a demonstration of the upcoming changes, please refer to our October Monthly Webinar.

How to Contact Lifeline
Interested in getting in touch? The following Lifeline inboxes are ways to reach out to receive guidance on specific topics. Service providers should only email the inboxes below with questions or concerns that relate to the corresponding topics.

Lifeline Email Inbox Topic
LifelineSupport@usac.org Customer related inquires, general questions
LifelineProgram@usac.org More technical concerns or questions
LiVerifications@usac.org Recertification and reverification
LifelineProgramIntegrity@usac.org General program integrity question
LIAppeals@usac.org Lifeline appeals
LifelineBiennial@usac.org Lifeline Biennial Audit
Forms497@usac.org Reimbursement claims, Lifeline Claims System (LCS), and disbursement questions
Form555@usac.org Form 555 questions
LIFilings@hcli.universalservice.org Submission of revised Form 497 filings for data months prior to January 2018

Service providers should continue to send all ETC Order related documentation and SAC requests to HCOrders@usac.org and direct all E-File account questions to customersupport@usac.org.

The Lifeline Support Center continues to serve as a resource for service providers, consumers and other individuals with National Verifier applications.

Consumers should continue to direct all inquiries to the Lifeline Support Center via email at LifelineSupport@usac.org and via phone at (800) 234-9473.

New Minimum Service Standards to Take Effect December 2019
The Lifeline Minimum Service Standards changes will take effect on December 1, 2019. USAC understands the new standards may affect customer billing and/or service options. Lifeline providers are encouraged to notify subscribers of any changes to their service.

If a Lifeline subscriber plan changes, please make the applicable update to “Service Type” in NLAD. The Service Types are below, and can be found in the NLAD user guide.  

Service Type Description
Voice Subscriber is provided a Voice only service that meets the minimum service standards.
Broadband Subscriber is provided a Broadband only service that meets the minimum service standards.
Bundled Voice Subscriber is provided a Voice and Broadband service that meets the Voice minimum service standards only.
Bundled Broadband Subscriber is provided a Voice and Broadband service that meets the Voice minimum service standards only.
Bundled Voice & Broadband  Subscriber is provided a Voice and Broadband service that meets both the Voice and Broadband minimum service standards.

USAC invites carriers to share how they plan to communicate the minimum service standards changes to subscribers by emailing LifelineProgram@usac.org.

October 23, 2019
USAC Announces Release of NV Carrier APIs Phase II Testing

Phase II of the National Verifier Carrier APIs is available for testing in the staging (pre-production) environment beginning today, Wednesday, October 23.

Accessing the API, Test Data, and API Specifications
With the release of the second phase of testing, service providers will be able to test using the APIs to initiate and complete an application for all consumers, including those required to upload documents directly with USAC to resolve application errors.

Carriers can proceed with testing using the requests and mock data provided in the API Specifications. The latest version of the API Specifications will be available in the “Reports and Tools” section of the left hand navigation panel upon logging into NLAD.

Service providers should use the following service URL to point their request towards the staging (pre-production) environment: https://api-stg.universalservice.org/nvca-svc/.

For additional background information and introductory materials describing the National Verifier APIs, please visit USAC’s website and view the National Verifier Carrier API – Phase 2 Training Webinar.

October 21, 2019
Reminder of Upcoming System Changes

New Hostname for NLAD APIs

On October 28, 2019 NLAD API users may begin using the new NLAD API hostname in the production environment. 

The new hostname will be “api-stg.universalservice.org”/ “api.universalservice.org” for the staging/production environments. All other components of the base URL for the NLAD APIs will remain the same.

To prepare for this change, service providers should alert their technical teams.  Business partners whose enrollment or billing system interacts with NLAD via API should also be informed of this milestone.

The new hostname is being implemented to improve the security and performance of the NLAD system. Testing of the hostname has been available in the staging (pre-production) environment since late September.

Next week’s production release is the second of a three-step rollout process for the new hostname.

September 25, 2019 – Begin testing the new hostname in the staging environment. The current hostname will continue to work in the staging environment at this time.

October 28, 2019 – Optional use of the new hostname in the production environment begins. The current hostname will continue to work in the production environment until late November. 

November 25, 2019 – Required use of the new hostname in both the staging and production environments. The current hostname will no longer work and any NLAD transactions submitted using the old request will fail.

Updated NLAD API Specifications will be available in the production environment on October 23, 2019 to reflect this change. Please encourage your technical teams and/or billing partners to review section 2.1, “Service URLs,” for details.  

October 18, 2019
USAC Announces Release of NV Carrier APIs Phase II

National Verifier Carrier API Phase II Testing


USAC will make Phase II of the National Verifier Carrier APIs available for testing in the staging (pre-production) environment beginning the week of October 21, 2019. USAC will make an announcement when testing is available.

Background
USAC and the FCC are moving forward with APIs that enable carriers to interface directly with the National Verifier. Two APIs, known as the “Eligibility Check API” and the “Status Check API,” will allow service providers to initiate an application and check the status of that application in the National Verifier via API.

USAC is making the APIs available for testing in two phases. The first phase began on September 19, 2019. At that time carriers could begin testing use of the two APIs to initiate and complete an application for a consumer that passes all identity and eligibility checks. With the release of the second phase of testing, service providers will be able to test using the APIs to initiate and complete an application for all consumers, including those required to upload documents directly with USAC to resolve application errors.

For additional background information and introductory materials describing the National Verifier APIs, please visit USAC’s website and view the “National Verifier Carrier API Overview” webinar from September 18, 2019.

Updates to API Specifications
USAC has made updates to the National Verifier API Specifications based on feedback received from carriers during testing.

Updates to the specifications include added details and new error messages. Details regarding rate limits and authorization methods have been updated. The document also describes in greater detail the redirect URL that the Check Eligibility and Check Status APIs return to the carrier. Notably, USAC clarified that the redirect URL is single-use and that it expires within a set period of time. To better facilitate carrier testing and development, the document also includes details on how carriers might use the Check Status request to account for scenarios involving a consumer who completes the application process in more than one session. See the change log located at the beginning of the document for additional details.

Accessing the API, Test Data, and API Specifications
Carriers can proceed with testing using the requests and mock data provided in the API Specifications. The latest version of the API Specifications will be available in the “Reports and Tools” section of the left hand navigation panel upon logging into NLAD on October 23. 

Service providers should use the following service URL to point their request towards the staging (pre-production) environment: https://api-stg.universalservice.org/nvca-svc/.
(Note: This is not a clickable link. This is an example URL request.)

For more information on the National Verifier Carrier APIs and on the new functionality available with Phase II, review a recording of yesterday’s webinar

October 17, 2019
Scheduled System Maintenance, October

Reminder: Scheduled System Maintenance, October 18

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to October’s monthly maintenance starting Friday, October 18 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS staging (pre-production) and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

Upcoming NLAD Staging Scheduled Maintenance, October 21

The NLAD staging (pre-production) environment will be unavailable due scheduled system maintenance starting Monday, October 21 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. ET.

The NLAD production environment will be available for use during this time.

Upcoming NLAD and National Verifier Maintenance, October 22

The NLAD production environment and the National Verifier staging (pre-production) and production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance from Tuesday, October 22 from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. ET. Testing for the National Verifier Carrier API will also be unavailable during this time.

The NLAD staging (pre-production) environment will be available for use during this time.

September 25, 2019
Lifeline Program September Newsletter

FCC and USAC Announce National Verifier Full Launch Date June 2019 Launch

The National Verifier will fully launch in 11 additional states on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. As of that date, service providers in the June 2019 soft launch group must use the National Verifier to determine the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program

This includes:

Arizona,
Connecticut,
Georgia,
Iowa,
Kansas,
Nebraska,
Nevada,
New York,
Vermont,
Virginia, and
West Virginia

Service providers will be only able to enroll applicants in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) if they have an active and approved eligibility decision from the National Verifier.

Consumers in these states who wish to apply for Lifeline through the National Verifier will be able to use the consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center starting Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

Service providers in this launch will receive additional communications from USAC with specific information regarding the full launch of the National Verifier.

If you are a service provider in the June 2019 launch and have not received information about the full launch, email us at LifelineProgram@usac.org. National Verifier Soft Launches in 10 Additional States – October 2019 Launch The National Verifier will soft launch in the following states on Friday, October 11:

Alabama,
Arkansas,
Louisiana,
Massachusetts,
Maryland,
New Jersey,
Oklahoma,
Puerto Rico,
South Carolina, and
Washington

Service providers in the October 2019 launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.

During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.

Lifeline National Verifier Connects to Nationwide Medicaid Data

Partnership Simplifies Qualification for Lifeline Consumers, Bolsters Lifeline Program Integrity

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new National Verifier data connection for nationwide Medicaid data with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that benefits consumers who wish to enroll or are currently enrolled in the federal Lifeline program. This connection took effect on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.     

The Impact of the CMS Connection 

The FCC’s Lifeline program provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on phone and/or Internet service. Participation in Medicaid is one-way consumers can show that they qualify for the Lifeline program. It is anticipated that the CMS data connection will enable the National Verifier, which USAC administers on behalf of the FCC, to automatically confirm the eligibility of up to 60% of consumers seeking to enroll in Lifeline.

This will lower the burden associated with proving Lifeline eligibility for Medicaid participants and allow for a quicker eligibility determination while promoting the integrity of the Lifeline program. Both new applications and recertifications (required annually to continue to receive Lifeline service) that are processed through the National Verifier will benefit from this new connection.

For more details regarding the CMS connection, please visit the FCC’s website.

New Minimum Service Standards to Take Effect on December 2019

The FCC recently announced updates to the Lifeline Minimum Service Standards, to take effect on December 1, 2019. These updates were calculated according to a formula established in the  2016 Lifeline Order.

Next Steps for Service Providers

Carriers who provide Lifeline-supported services will need to notify subscribers of the changes to the minimum service standards. USAC understands these changes may affect customer billing and/or service options.

Carriers also will need to make any necessary updates to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) as a result of the new standards to ensure that the ‘service type’ for each subscriber is accurate. It is crucial this information is correct, as this is the first time that ‘service type’ will determine the amount of reimbursement that is paid.

We are working to prepare our call center for consumers’ calls related to the minimum service standard updates. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact us at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

USAC is aware some stakeholders have filed petitions with the FCC concerning the changes to the minimum service standards. Those petitions are still under FCC review. 

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates

While the RAD remains fully permissive and purely in the testing stage, USAC has:

1. Revised the instructions on how to link Representative IDs to test accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment,
2. Released the Linked Representatives Report in the NLAD pre-production environment, and
3. Adjusted the RAD document submission process for resolving errors associated with a Representative ID. To ensure a smooth transition, enrollment representatives are encouraged to obtain a unique Representative ID now, well before a Representative ID is required by USAC systems.

RAD Pre-Production Linking Guides

Revised instructions on how to link Representative IDs to test accounts in the NLAD pre-production environment are posted on USAC’s RAD Resources page. Service providers can review the guidelines specific to Individual User accounts and API accounts. Both instructions include a list of test Representative IDs that service providers must use when linking accounts in NLAD pre-production. To access NLAD pre-production, service providers may use the same log in the information used to access NLAD production or an already created test account. Please note that any testing performed in the pre-production environment will not be reflected in the production environment.

Service providers should use the guides to test:

1. The process of linking Representative IDs to accounts,
2. And the validations on a Representative ID that will occur during transactions.

Linked Representatives Report in NLAD Pre-Production

USAC has released the Linked Representatives Report in NLAD pre-production. Once test Representative IDs are successfully linked to test accounts, this report will provide information about the representatives linked to the ETC Administrator’s or Form 497 Officer’s SPINs.  

To review the Linked Representatives Report in NLAD pre-production:

1. Go to the “Reports and Tools” in the left navigation bar of the NLAD page,
2.  Click “Reports,” and
3. Click “Linked Representatives Report.”

Once you are on the Linked Representatives Report page:

1.  Select “SPIN(s)” and “Representative ID Status” (optional),
2.  Select how you want to review the report,

When you select “Display on a web page” option, and click “Submit,” the page will display a table titled “Linked Representatives Report.”

When you select the “CSV file with each row containing selected data on a single representative” under the “Select Report Format” and click “Submit,” a CSV file named “LinkedRepresentativesReport.csv” will download. USAC encourages service providers to familiarize themselves with this report and the process to link accounts to Representative IDs in the NLAD pre-production environment.

Adjustments to the RAD Document Submission Process

After receiving feedback from service providers and representatives about resolving errors during the Representative ID registration process, USAC has developed a second option for representatives to submit their documentation. In addition to mailing in copies of documentation to resolve errors associated with a representative’s identity or when they appear as a duplicate representative, representatives may now upload documentation through USAC’s secure web page.

Action Required: Update Field on FCC Form 498

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 or the DATA Act, requires federal agencies to publish standardized spending data on https://usaspending.gov. To comply with the DATA Act, USAC updated the FCC Form 498 to include a section for DATA Act business types.

Service providers are required to update their FCC Form 498 in E-File with their organization’s business type(s). Service providers can select up o three business types ranked in order of importance. Service providers will also need to include their Dun and Bradstreet number.

Once the service provider updates the business type field, an Officer will need to certify and approve the FCC Form 498 before this process is complete and the information is shared with USAC.

For questions about the DATA Act or your FCC Form 498, service providers can call USAC at (888) 641-8722 or email FINOPS-Processing@usac.org.

October Monthly Webinar: Lifeline Website Demo

Join us on Wednesday, October 9 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss USAC’s upcoming website updates. We will provide an overview of website enhancements and a demo of the new look of the website. Following the presentation, we will take the provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

September 19, 2019
Now Available: National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API Test Environment

Beginning today, Thursday, September 19, service providers are able to start testing the National Verifier Carrier APIs in the staging (pre-production) environment. Carriers can request the API specifications by emailing LifelineProgram@usac.org with the subject line “NV Carrier API Specifications.”


Background


USAC and the FCC are moving forward with APIs that enable carriers to interface directly with the National Verifier. The APIs will be used by service providers to conduct eligibility checks and receive eligibility result responses. We anticipate that these APIs will be used by service providers to streamline the Lifeline application process and provide a better customer service experience to their Lifeline customers.

Two APIs are now available for these purposes. The first API, referred to as the “Eligibility Check API,” enables service providers to initiate an application for Lifeline in the National Verifier via API. The second API, referred to as the “Status Check API,” enables service providers to retrieve the current status of a consumer’s application, using a unique identifier or token created during the eligibility check.

More information about each of these optional APIs and how to use them is provided in the specification document. In addition, USAC will host office hours to discuss Phase 1 of the National Verifier APIs testing on Thursday, September 26. Register for these office hours here.


The recording from yesterday’s National Verifier Carrier API webinar will be available shortly on the Lifeline Learn page.


Accessing the API


Carriers can proceed with testing using the requests and mock data provided in the API Specifications. They should use the following service URL to point their request towards the staging (pre-production) environment: https://api-stg.universalservice.org/nvca-svc/.

Service providers can create a new API ID or they can use the same API ID that they already use for testing the existing NLAD APIs. If they choose to create a new API ID for testing the National Verifier APIs, they should follow the same API ID creation process that is used to create an NLAD API ID. An API ID that works for NLAD will also work when testing the National Verifier APIs.


Interconnectivity Service Agreements


Use of the National Verifier APIs in the production environment will require an interconnection security agreement (ISA), which is a federal security standards best practice and is needed to comply with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards that ensure the security of USAC’s systems.  The ISA is an agreement established between USAC and each service provider to document the technical requirements and terms of use for accessing the National Verifier APIs. Service providers who plan to use the APIs should begin to consider who to engage within their company to review and sign such a document. USAC will share the ISA template in early fall. 

An executed ISA will be required to use the National Verifier APIs when they are released to the production environment. At that time, an executed ISA will also be required to continue testing in the staging (pre-production) environment. However, an executed ISA is not necessary during the initial testing period.


Questions and Additional Information


Please direct questions regarding the National Verifier APIs to LifelineProgram@usac.org.

September 18, 2019
Lifeline National Verifier Connection to Nationwide Medicaid Data

Partnership Simplifies Qualification for Lifeline Consumers, Bolsters Lifeline Program Integrity

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new National Verifier data connection for nationwide Medicaid data with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that benefits consumers who wish to enroll or are currently enrolled in the federal Lifeline program. This connection took effect on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.     
The Impact of the Nationwide Connection

The FCC’s Lifeline program provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on phone and/or Internet service. Participation in Medicaid is one way consumers can show that they qualify for the Lifeline program. It is anticipated that the CMS data connection will enable the National Verifier, which USAC administers on behalf of the FCC, to automatically confirm the eligibility of up to 60% of consumers seeking to enroll in Lifeline.

This will provide a quicker and lower burden eligibility decision for eligible Lifeline customers nationwide while promoting the integrity of the Lifeline program.

At this time, any new application or recertification (required annually to continue to receive Lifeline service) that is processed through the National Verifier will benefit from this new connection.

Learn More

For more details regarding the CMS connection, please visit the FCC’s website.

September 18, 2019
Upcoming National Verifier Maintenance

Scheduled System Maintenance, September 20

The National Verifier production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Friday, September 20 from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment. National Verifier and NLAD’s pre-production environments will also be available for use during this time.

September 17, 2019
NLAD System Notification

Resolved: NLAD Intermittent Connectivity Issues

USAC is aware that National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) users may have been experiencing issues completing transactions in NLAD. Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please contact the Lifeline Support Center at LifelineSupport@usac.org or (800) 234-9473.

September 12, 2019
Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance

Scheduled System Maintenance, September 16

In addition to September’s monthly maintenance scheduled for tomorrow, the National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Monday, September 16 from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s pre-production and production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the pre-production and production environments.

September 11, 2019
Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance

Scheduled System Maintenance, September 13

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to September’s monthly maintenance starting Friday, September 13 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

August 31, 2019
Resolved: Lifeline Support Center Calls Disrupted

This morning the Lifeline Support Center experienced technical difficulties that may have prevented callers from reaching support staff by phone. USAC quickly identified the issue and it has been resolved. Full connectivity is restored. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

August 30, 2019
Lifeline Program August Newsletter

National Verifier Progress – System Updates

National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API

USAC has begun development of an application programming interface (API) for the National Verifier that would permit service providers to interface directly with the National Verifier to conduct eligibility checks and receive eligibility result responses. This enhancement will allow service providers to better integrate the National Verifier with their own online enrollment systems and processes, while still maintaining program integrity.

This month, USAC hosted discussions with service providers who use the NLAD API to ensure they have an opportunity to learn about the tool and provide their feedback on the implementation. We look forward to continuing conversations with service providers as development of the carrier API moves forward. USAC anticipates that the technical specifications will be available and that initial testing will begin this fall.

For more information on the carrier API, join our September monthly webinar.

September Monthly Webinar: National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API

Join us on Wednesday, September 18 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the status of the National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API. We will give an overview of how the National Verifier works for service providers today and how the carrier eligibility API aims to improve the experience. We will also provide a high-level walk through of the API functionality and set timeline expectations. Following the presentation, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Timeline

The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) is now available for use.  Full implementation of RAD is intended, with timelines currently under review. At this time, registration is voluntary. To ensure a smooth transition, enrollment representatives are encouraged to obtain a unique Representative ID now, well before a Representative ID is required by USAC systems. We pledge to share updates, including when a Representative ID is required, as they become available.

For more information on RAD, you can find resources on the Lifeline RAD and training on the Lifeline Learn page.

Recertification Reminder
For USAC Elected Service Providers and Those in National Verifier States

In April 2019, USAC transitioned to a daily batching process for subscribers undergoing annual recertification that are part of the USAC-Elected process (in states where the National Verifier has not launched) or National Verifier recertification processes.

Recertification Overview:

  • Recertification begins 90 days before a subscriber’s anniversary date in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). 
  • Recertification checks will be conducted every day, and 60-day recertification windows will be initiated every business day.
  • Consumers, who are scheduled for recertification, have a 60-day window to successfully recertify their Lifeline benefit using one of the three recertification methods – paper forms, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or online.
  • Service providers will be able to see which subscribers are currently undergoing recertification via the Recertification Subscriber Status Report, which is available in NLAD.


If a subscriber does not successfully recertify, USAC will notify the subscriber via mail within 2-3 business days and they will be automatically de-enrolled from NLAD five (5) business days after the conclusion of their recertification window.  After the de-enrollment has occurred, NLAD will send an automated email to notify the service provider and the Failed Recertification De-Enroll Report will be updated.

Please be advised that only the ETC Administrator user role in NLAD will receive the automated de-enrollment notices. USAC is actively working with our IT team to see if additional users can be added to recertification de-enrollment notices in the future.

Recertification Enhancements for Consumers in National Verifier States

With recent enhancements to the National Verifier consumer portal, consumers in hard launch states will be able see their recertification status once logged into the portal. From this window, consumers will also be able to complete any pending recertifications.

August 29, 2019
Upcoming National Verifier Maintenance, September 5

The National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Thursday, September 5 from 9:00 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s pre-production and production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the pre-production and production environments.

August 21, 2019
UPDATE: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, August 23

The scheduled maintenance set for Friday, August 23 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. will only impact the National Verifier.

The National Verifier’s production environment will not be available for use during this time.

Users of NLAD’s National Verifier workflow will not be able to enroll, transfer, or update subscriber information in NLAD’s production environment. NLAD UI and API users can continue to access reports and perform de-enrollments during this time.

July 31, 2019
Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, August 6

The National Verifier’s production environment will be unavailable for use starting Tuesday, August 6 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET.

During this maintenance window, users of NLAD’s National Verifier workflow will not be able to enroll, transfer, or update subscriber information in NLAD’s production environment. NLAD UI and API users can continue to access reports and perform de-enrollments during this time.

July 30, 2019
Lifeline Program July Newsletter

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates


Beginning Tuesday, July 16, service providers were able to begin linking Representative IDs to accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment. Service providers should use the test Representative IDs to practice linking a Representative ID to existing and new user accounts.

In addition, service providers can test changes to the NLAD in the pre-production environment. These changes include:

  • The errors they or their subaccount users would experience when trying to submit a transaction with an inactive Representative ID;
  • The ability for API users to submit API transactions with a Representative ID. Transactions now include additional API fields to associate Representative IDs with individual NLAD transactions in pre-production;
  • Testing for the batch upload process, with the new fields noted above, will also be available.


Service providers can request the revised API Specifications (with the subject line RAD – NLAD API Specs) and/or batch file template (with the subject line RAD – Batch File) by contacting LifelineSupport@usac.org.


For more information on how to link existing and new user accounts to a Representative ID, review the July monthly webinar and attend our next Lifeline Program webinar on August 14.

National Verifier: New Enhancements Coming in August


USAC is excited to introduce new enhancements to the National Verifier (NV). The August 2019 updates focus on providing more visibility and accessibility to Service Providers and Consumers.

Improvements to the Application Visibility and Accessibility

The National Verifier will now:

  • Show recertifications to consumers from NV states on their consumer landing page
  • Provide information on the portal around when reverification applications will expire
  • Allow consumers who qualify through income to provide their household size while waiting for an eligibility response from a batch state
  • Allow consumers who have selected to view the portal in Spanish to print a Spanish application form

Recertifications on the Consumer Landing Page

Consumers from NV states going through the annual recertification process will now be able to log in to their consumer account and access their recertification forms on their consumer landing page.

In addition to the recertification forms, a consumer will now be able to see their recertification status.

  • If the consumer has not yet submitted a recertification form, a “Not Yet Recertified” status will appear.
  • If the consumer has successfully submitted recertification forms a “Recertified” status will be shown on the consumer landing page.
  • Recertification forms that are no longer active will display with an “Expired” status.
  • Forms that have been closed out will display with a “Closed” status.

Please note that consumers with open recertification forms will not be able to submit a qualification form.


Updated Batch Process: Allowing Applicants to Provide Household Size For Consumers who Qualify through Income and are in a Pending Batch Decision Status

Lifeline applications submitted in batch states (NC, TN, MO, and KY) that fail the federal data source check receive a “Pending Batch Decision” status. The applicant then waits 1-3 days to receive an eligibility response from the state.  Under the prior workflow, users could upload documents for all errors, including eligibility, but could not provide their household size if they qualify for Lifeline through income.

In August 2019, consumers in “Pending Batch Decision” status will be able to provide their household size when uploading eligibility documentation if they qualify through income.


Spanish Applications on the Portal

Consumers who choose to access the National Verifier portal in Spanish will be able to download and print Spanish paper application forms that can be mailed to the Lifeline Support Center. Spanish forms can be accessed by toggling to Spanish and then selecting the paper form link on the public landing page or the consumer login page.

Learn More

These and other enhancements will be introduced on August 7, 2019. Information on this release, as well as past releases is available on USAC’s website.


Reminder: Lifeline Program Consumer Advocate Training


The federal Lifeline Program provides low-income consumers with a monthly discount on their phone or internet service. This is an important benefit that helps consumers stay connected to family, work, education, and health services.

With the implementation of the National Verifier, an innovative tool that allows consumers to apply directly for the Lifeline benefit, consumer information is verified against state and federal data connections, which normally results in a quicker eligibility decision and provides more ways for a consumer to apply (such as through a service provider, through the consumer portal, or via mail).

To educate social service agents, caseworkers, and other advocates on the Lifeline program, the National Verifier, and how to help their clients enroll, USAC is hosting a Consumer Advocate Training on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. You and other interested consumer advocates can register for the training here.


Webinar on August 14: Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Office Hours 


Join us on Wednesday, August 14, for our next Lifeline Program webinar. The topic is the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). This will be in an Office Hours format. We will provide a general refresher on the RAD and an opportunity for service providers to ask questions. This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories.

If you have specific questions for this webinar, please email them to Lifelineprogram@usac.org.

You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

July 25, 2019
WBC Announces Updates to Lifeline Minimum Service Standards and Indexed Budget Amount

On July 25, 2019, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced the updated minimum service standards for speed and usage allowances for Lifeline-supported services as required by the 2016 Lifeline Order . The 2016 Lifeline Order established minimum service standards for certain Lifeline-supported services and either established annual increases in those standards in the Commission’s rules or directed the Bureau to update the minimum service standards pursuant to calculations set out in the Order and the Commission’s rules.   

The newly calculated minimum service standards for fixed and mobile broadband will take effect on December 1, 2019.


Minimum service standards beginning December 1, 2019:

  • Fixed broadband minimum service standards
    Speed: 20/3 Mbps, or at least 4/1 Mbps
    Usage Allowance: 1024 GB
  • Mobile broadband minimum service standards
    Speed:3G or better
    Usage Allowance: 8.75 GB
  • Mobile voice telephony minimum service standard
    Unchanged – 1000 Minutes

For more details regarding the minimum service standards update, please visit FCC’s website.

July 24, 2019
Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, July 26

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, July 26 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET. 

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

July 17, 2019
Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates

Changes to NLAD Pre-Production

Beginning today, Wednesday, July 17, service providers may begin linking Representative IDs to accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment. Service providers should use the test Representative IDs provided by USAC to test linking a Representative ID to existing and new user accounts in pre-production. An NLAD Pre-Production Guide for Linking Representative IDs to Test Accounts, which includes the test Representative IDs, is available on USAC’s website.

For questions about the NLAD Pre-Production Guide for Linking Representative IDs to Test Accounts, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD – NLAD PreProd Guide.

Looking Ahead

Additional changes related to the continuing implementation of RAD will be available the week of July 29.

  1. Any new account created in the production environment will require a Representative ID.
  2. Service providers may begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts in the production environment.
  3. Service providers may use the pre-production environment for testing the validations and errors related to a Representative ID during NLAD transactions. For example, service providers may test the errors that they would receive when trying to perform an enrollment with an account linked to a locked Representative ID. Services providers will also be able to test any errors that they could receive during an API or batch transaction related to the two new Representative ID fields.
  • With this release, service providers will receive an error when attempting a transaction in the pre-production environment that does not have a Representative ID linked.
  • Service providers who have yet to do so can request the revised API Specifications by contacting LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD – NLAD API Specs. The revised subscriber batch file template is available on the RAD Resources page.


Upcoming RAD Office Hours

USAC is hosting RAD Office Hours today, Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Service providers will receive a high-level overview of content previously discussed in training and have the opportunity to submit questions. Register for the upcoming office hours here.

For more information on RAD, visit USAC’s RAD pages. 

July 2, 2019
Lifeline Program June Newsletter

The National Verifier fully launched in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
 
Service providers in these states are now required to use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them into the Lifeline program. Consumers in these states can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center.


National Verifier Soft Launches in 11 Additional States – June 2019 Soft Launch


The National Verifier soft launched in the following states on Tuesday, June 25.

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia


Service providers in the June 2019 soft launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.
 
During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.


June 2019 Enhancements Live in National Verifier on June 25


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC released new enhancements to the National Verifier portal. The June 2019 updates focus on streamlining the application workflow, including address verification.
 
Additional details regarding the National Verifier v7.0 Production Release Notes for the June 2019 enhancements can be found on USAC’s website.
 
To learn more about Lifeline and the National Verifier, visit USAC’s National Verifier page.


Program Integrity Efforts and Reminders

Though USAC tries to minimize documentation requests for audit, Program Quality Assurance (PQA), and Program Integrity reviews whenever possible, service providers may still receive multiple documentation requests from USAC for the various audit and program integrity reviews. To better understand USAC’s program integrity efforts and the difference between program integrity reviews, beneficiary audits, and PQAs, review USAC’s Program Integrity page.

The best way to prepare for any program integrity request is to ensure that you are following Lifeline’s program document retention requirements. Lifeline service providers are required to keep records of their compliance with all state and FCC rules (47 C.F.R. §§ 54.417, 54.410).

Service providers that do business in states where the National Verifier has not yet launched (that are still handling eligibility determinations) and service providers electing to use their legacy eligibility determination processes in states where the National Verifier has soft launched are responsible for determining consumer eligibility and must have paper or electronic copies of their consumer’s application packet, including:

  • Application forms and proof of eligibility, and
  • Household worksheet, ID, and/or proof of address (if applicable).


Service providers must keep the required documentation for as long as the subscriber receives Lifeline service from that service provider, but for no less than the three full preceding calendar years.

Service providers are responsible for complying with the document retention requirements established in 47 C.F.R. § 54.410.

For more information on documentation requirements, review sections 54.410 and 54.417 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) here.

Reminder: June NLAD Release

Updates to BQP Information

As of Thursday, June 13, any changes to Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) information require a de-enroll and re-enroll. If a Lifeline consumer needs to edit, remove, or add BQP information, they will need to:

  1. Inform their service provider so that their service provider can de-enroll them,
  2. Re-apply with the updated BQP information, and
  3. Inform their service provider once they have successfully re-applied.


Once notified, their service provider can re-enroll them in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). Please note this change applies to all BQP information, regardless of if the consumer applied through the National Verifier or legacy workflow.

Changes to NLAD Address Field


After receiving feedback from service providers, USAC has updated the mailing address field for consumers in NLAD. With this release, service providers can input a general delivery address for a consumer into the mailing address field.  USAC is committed to collecting the best information possible to ensure all consumers receive timely notification of recertification, reverification, and other Lifeline Program processes.

You can review the “Mailing Address” field below.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Reminders


Phase 1 Implementation: Adoption Period


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC launched the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). The first phase of implementation, or the Adoption Period, opens the registration process for existing service provider representatives to start registering for their Representative IDs. In preparation for the Adoption Period, USAC hosted a RAD Registration training during the June monthly webinar. You can review the slide deck on the Lifeline Learn page.


Phase 2 Implementation: Linking Accounts


The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Service providers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in fourth quarter 2019.


NLAD API Specification Changes


Beginning in fourth quarter 2019, transactions submitted to the National Verifier and NLAD will be associated with a Representative ID. The NLAD API Specifications will be updated to account for this change. To receive the revised NLAD API Specification, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line: RAD – NLAD API Specs.

Please note that only service providers that use the NLAD API will need the updated NLAD API Specifications.

July Monthly Webinar: The Representative Accountability Database (RAD): Linking Accounts

Join us on Wednesday, July 10, for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the second phase of the RAD implementation. We will give an overview of the system and discuss the process to link Representative IDs to respective service providers. Once we share our material, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

June 25, 2019
National Verifier and NLAD Systems Notification

Connectivity Restored

Connectivity to the National Verifier and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is restored. We have been monitoring the issue closely and were able to stabilize the systems.

Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email NLADsupport@usac.org.

June 25, 2019
RAD Launches Today, Tuesday, June 25

RAD Adoption Period Open Today

Beginning today, Tuesday, June 25, representatives can register for a Representative ID by going to LifelineRAD.org. Representatives can access the RAD website, where they will go to self-register, via USAC’s website.

For more information on the Representative Accountability Database (RAD) registration process:

June 24, 2019
USAC Announces RAD

The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) will launch tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25. Beginning June 25, the RAD Adoption Period will open, allowing representatives who perform Lifeline enrollments and other related transactions to register for their Representative ID. USAC will send a bulletin tomorrow notifying service providers that the link to the RAD website, where representatives will go to self-register, is live and available.

USAC asks that service providers inform their representatives of this requirement.

Next Steps

The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Carriers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

At the same time that the process for linking a Representative ID to accounts becomes available in the NLAD pre-production and production environments, USAC will release changes to pre-production that include requiring a Representative ID for all transactions submitted using the UI or API. More information on this will also be provided during the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these system changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in the fourth quarter of 2019.

RAD Overview

RAD is a new registration system that will allow service provider representatives to obtain a unique ID.

Once the next phase of RAD deployment begins in late July, service provider representatives will provide their unique ID to all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETC) that they support. ETCs will then link these unique IDs to appropriate NLAD and National Verifier accounts. USAC will then be able to use this ID to track a representative’s transactions in the NLAD and National Verifier. 

  • Transactions will be monitored for potentially fraudulent activity.
  • A unique identifier will give USAC the ability to revoke access to its systems for individual users suspected of fraudulent activity.


The list below outlines who will need to register for a Representative ID:

  • Individuals directly interfacing with potential subscribers to enroll them in Lifeline
  • Immediate supervisors of individuals directly interacting with potential subscribers to complete Lifeline enrollments
  • Individuals that contract directly with ETCs and oversee or manage several teams of people working to complete Lifeline enrollments (Master Agents)
  • Individuals that either assist subscribers with recertification or prepare subscriber information for recertification and submission to the NLAD and National Verifier
  • Customer service representatives that update PII for existing Lifeline subscribers
  • Back office individuals that conduct manual eligibility reviews of subscriber enrollment or recertification information that is initially submitted through an electronic system, e.g., an online portal, ETC billing system

RAD Registration Resources

  • Service providers and their representatives can find more information about RAD and how representatives can resolve identity errors on USAC’s website. Please note that the content on USAC’s website for representatives and how they can resolve identity errors is for representatives that do business in the United States. Information for representatives that are employed outside of the United States will be provided shortly.
  • Service providers and their representatives can review June’s monthly webinar on the registration process here.
  • USAC is hosting two office hours to help service providers adjust to the new system on:
          – Monday, July 1 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here)
          – Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here
June 19, 2019
Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, June 21

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the June monthly maintenance starting Friday, June 21 from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

Upcoming National Verifier Production Maintenance, June 24

The National Verifier production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Monday, June 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment. The National Verifier and NLAD pre-production environments will also be available for use during this time.

June 13, 2019
June NLAD Release

Updates to BQP Information

Beginning today, Thursday, June 13, any changes to Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) information will require a de-enroll and re-enroll. 

If a Lifeline consumer needs to edit, remove, or add BQP information, they will need to:

  1. Inform their service provider so that their service provider can de-enroll them,
  2. Re-apply with the updated BQP information, and
  3. Inform their service provider once they have successfully re-applied. 

Once notified, their service provider can re-enroll them in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). Please note this change applies to all BQP information, regardless if the consumer applied through the National Verifier or legacy workflow.

Changes to NLAD Address Field

After receiving feedback from service providers, USAC has updated the mailing address field for consumers in NLAD. With this release, service providers are able to input a general delivery address for a consumer into the mailing address field.  USAC is committed to collecting the best information possible to ensure all consumers receive timely notification of recertification, reverification, and other Lifeline Program processes.

June 4, 2019
Reminder: Scheduled System Maintenance, June 6

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and National Verifier production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Thursday, June 6 from 9 p.m. until midnight ET.

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production environments will be available for use during this time.

May 31, 2019
Lifeline Program Newsletter – May 2019

National Verifier Live in Additional States and Territories

The Lifeline National Verifier fully launched in the following localities on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • District of Columbia
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Service providers in this launch are now required to use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them into the Lifeline program. Consumers in these states and territories can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal or by mailing a paper application  to the Lifeline Support Center.

FCC and USAC Announce the Upcoming National Verifier Full Launch Date for Three Additional States

The National Verifier will fully launch in three additional states on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. As of that date, service providers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan must use the National Verifier to determine the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program. Service providers will only be able to enroll applicants in National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) if they have an active and approved eligibility decision from the National Verifier.

Consumers in these states who wish to apply for Lifeline through the National Verifier will be able to use the consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center starting Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Service providers in this launch will receive additional communications from USAC with specific information regarding the full launch of the National Verifier.

If you are a service provider in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan and have not received information about the full launch, email us at LifelineProgram@usac.org. 

National Verifier: New Enhancements Coming in June

USAC is excited to introduce new enhancements to the National Verifier. The June 2019 updates focus on streamlining the application workflow, including address verification.

Improvements to Application Process

The National Verifier will now:

  • Allow upload of eligibility documents for applications in Batch States prior to state eligibility response,
  • Specify rejection reasons for applications submitted via the National Verifier portal, and

Complete an automatic pin drop on the AMS mapping tool reflecting the approximate address location as entered by the user.

Upload of Eligibility Documents for Applications in “Pending Batch Decision” Status

Lifeline applications submitted in batch states (NC, TN, MO, and KY) that fail the federal data source check receive a “Pending Batch Decision” status. The applicant then waits 1-3 days to receive an eligibility response from the state.  Under the current workflow, users are able to submit documentation to resolve all errors except for eligibility prior to receiving an eligibility response.

In June 2019 USAC will update the application workflow to allow users to upload eligibility documentation while in the “Pending Batch Decision” status. This will enable users to submit all documentation to resolve all potential errors before receiving an eligibility response from the state. This will ensure a streamlined experience and reduce return visits to service providers to enroll in Lifeline.

Specific Rejection Reasons for Applications

An application submitted in the National Verifier may result in an error that requires additional documentation for the Lifeline Support Center to review.

Service providers and consumers often request clarification around why certain documents are rejected during this manual review.

USAC will now provide specific reasons why a document was rejected in the National Verifier. This update will enable consumers to better understand what is required for submission and qualification.

Automatic Pin Drop on the AMS Map

When a user enters an address in National Verifier, the system will transmit the information to the AMS mapping tool. Once a user reaches the AMS mapping tool screen, they will see a map along with a pin near or on the exact address provided in the application. Users will then need to simply verify that the pin drop is in the correct spot (or move the pin to the correct location) to proceed to the next section of the application.

For users who use a descriptive address, the tool will attempt to locate the exact address and drop the pin there. If the tool is unable to locate the exact address, a pin will drop within an approximate boundary (e.g. zip code) from the provided address.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates

In late June, USAC will begin implementing the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). The registration system will be used to validate the identities of service provider representatives that handle Lifeline program enrollments, recertifications, and other related transactions.

Representatives and service providers will interact with the RAD in the following ways:

  • Representatives will self-register for their Representative ID,
  • Representatives will take their Representative ID to all service providers for which they perform Lifeline transactions so that the ID can be linked to their National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) accounts,
  • USAC will monitor representatives’ transactions for potentially fraudulent activity and lock out representatives when appropriate, and
  • Service providers will regularly confirm that the representatives linked to their accounts should remain linked to their accounts through the RAD Confirmation process.

Representatives that perform any of the following Lifeline transactions will require a Representative ID:

  • Individuals directly interfacing with potential subscribers to enroll them in Lifeline,
  • Immediate supervisors of individuals directly interacting with potential subscribers to complete Lifeline enrollments,
    Individuals that contract directly with ETCs and oversee or manage several teams of people working to complete Lifeline enrollments,
  • Individuals that either assist subscribers with recertification or prepare subscriber information for recertification and submission to the National Verifier or NLAD,
  • Customer service representatives that update PII for existing Lifeline subscribers, and

Back office individuals that conduct manual eligibility reviews of subscriber enrollment or recertification information that is initially submitted through an electronic system (such as an online portal or ETC billing system).

The registration period for service provider representatives will begin in late June. When the registration period begins, all existing representatives will be asked to register for a Representative ID. Service providers will be given time to test linking a Representative’s ID to their respective accounts before RAD is fully implemented. USAC anticipates that RAD will be fully implemented in the fourth quarter of this year.

NLAD API Specification Changes

As mentioned above and during the May Webinar, transactions submitted to the National Verifier and NLAD will be associated with a Representative ID. The NLAD API Specifications will be updated to account for this change. To receive the revised NLAD API Specification, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD – NLAD API Specs.

These changes will include the Representative ID as a conditional field for the transaction types listed above. The change will also include a conditional field that can be used to indicate a representative was not involved in the transaction, such as when an application is submitted independently by a consumer through a carrier’s online enrollment system. Service providers will be able to test these changes in the NLAD pre-production environment in early third quarter 2019.

June Monthly Webinar: The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Registration Process

Join us on Wednesday, June 12 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the first phase of the Representative Accountability Database (RAD).  We will give an overview of the system, discuss the representative registration process and provide high-level information on the process to link Representative IDs to the respective service providers. Once we share our material, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Consumer Advocate Training on June 19

USAC is hosting a Consumer Advocate training for advocates in all states and territories on Wednesday, June 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. This training will provide a high-level overview of how advocates can educate consumers about the Lifeline program. USAC is committed to helping consumers navigate the new system and this training is meant to help consumer advocates, caseworkers, and others in the consumer support industry serve as a significant resource for consumers during the rollout of the National Verifier.

You can register for the training here. Please share this invitation with your colleagues or other consumer advocates. To be added to the consumer advocate distribution list, where you will receive additional updates for those that work directly with consumers, email LifelineProgram@usac.org. 

May 31, 2019
Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, June 6

The National Lifeline Accountability Database and National Verifier production environments will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Thursday, June 6 from 9 p.m. until midnight ET.

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production environments will be available for use during this time.

May 28, 2019
Resolved: National Verifier, NLAD, and LCS Systems Notification

Resolved: National Verifier, NLAD, and LCS Intermittent Connectivity Issues

Connectivity to the National Verifier, National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) has been fully restored. USAC has been monitoring the issues closely and was able to stabilize the systems yesterday afternoon and confirm their ongoing stability this morning.

Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email NLADsupport@usac.org.

May 20, 2019
Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, May 21

The NLAD pre-production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Tuesday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until noon ET

The National Verifier pre-production and production environments, as well as the NLAD production environment, will be available for use during this time.

Reminder: National Verifier Scheduled System Maintenance, May 24

The National Verifier will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, May 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET. The National Verifier pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

The NLAD legacy workflow will no longer be impacted; however, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s National Verifier mode.

May 15, 2019
Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, May 17

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to the May monthly maintenance starting Friday, May 17 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance, May 24

NLAD and the National Verifier will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, May 24 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET

NLAD and the National Verifier pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

NLAD Pre-Production Scheduled System Maintenance, May 21

The NLAD pre-production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Tuesday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until noon ET

The National Verifier pre-production and production environments as well as the NLAD production environment will be available for use during this time.

May 13, 2019
USAC Call Centers Capacity Restored

Capacity has been restored for the call centers for the High Cost, Rural Healthcare, and Schools and Libraries programs and the Lifeline Support Center.

May 10, 2019
USAC Announce National Verifier Full (Hard) Launch for March 2019 Launch

Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan Full (Hard) Launched today. The FCC and USAC announced that the Lifeline National Verifier will fully launch in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. At that time, service providers in the March 2019 launch must check all Lifeline applicants’ eligibility through the National Verifier.

At the full (hard) launch, consumers who wish to apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier can use the consumer portal or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center.