Lifeline service providers are required to confirm their customer’s eligibility prior to enrolling them in the Lifeline Program, and retain the eligibility documentation according to the recordkeeping requirements.
To be eligible for Lifeline, the consumer must document that they have a qualifying household income or participate in a qualifying program, and complete a certification form. Only one Lifeline benefit is allowed per household.
Determine Eligibility with the National Verifier
Service providers must use the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) to determine eligibility for customers in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming starting in 2018.
Once the National Verifier launches in a state, the National Verifier will determine whether a subscriber is eligible for Lifeline.
Other Methods for Determining Eligibility
Service providers can use one of three methods to verify the eligibility of subscribers in other states:
- State Checks Eligibility: If a state agency or administrator is responsible for determining Lifeline eligibility, service providers may rely on their eligibility determination if the state’s process is in compliance with FCC rules. Please review the Verification Processes by State for more detail.
- Query Database: If the service provider has access to state or federal social services eligibility databases, they must first query them to determine if the customer is eligible for the Lifeline Program. Visit the Verification Process by State page for a list of available databases. In the absence of a database, service providers must review eligibility documentation provided by the customer.
- Review Customer’s Proof of Eligibility: If a database query is not available and a state-administered process does not apply, review the customer’s eligibility documentation.
A customer may be eligible for Lifeline-supported service if they have a gross annual household income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Visit the Income Eligibility to learn more, including income guidelines and acceptable forms of documentation.
A customer may be eligible for Lifeline-supported service if they participate in SNAP, Medicaid, or another qualifying program. Visit the Program Eligibility page to see the full list of qualifying programs and acceptable forms of documentation.
Eligibility for Enhanced Support:
Lifeline customers that live on federally-recognized Tribal lands can receive discounts of up to $25 per month in addition to the standard benefit amount. Visit the Enhanced Lifeline Support and Link Up for Tribal Lands page to learn more.
Eligibility Certification Form
Service providers must use the National Verifier Application Form for subscribers in Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming when the National Verifier launches in 2018.
In other states, service providers are required to use the universal Lifeline consumer forms beginning July 1, 2018 (unless the state has pre-existing required Lifeline forms). Until then, service providers must give prospective Lifeline subscribers a certification form that meets the requirements of the Lifeline Program Rules (see 54.410(d) – Eligibility certification form), which include:
- Provide the specified information that summarizes the program’s rules,
- Obtain the subscriber’s full name, residential address, whether the address is permanent or temporary, billing address (if different), date of birth, last four digits of SSN or Tribal identification number, and name of qualifying program or number of household members,
- Obtain initialed acknowledgements of each certification statement from the subscriber under penalty of perjury,
- Obtain the subscriber’s signature, and
- Use clear, easily understood language
A sample application (certification) form is available for reference.
Keep the signed certification form for the required record retention period.
USAC recommends collecting new subscribers’ permission to transmit their information to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), as is required by the rules, with the certification form.
One Lifeline Benefit per Household
Service providers are required to take steps to ensure they are not providing duplicate Lifeline-supported service to the same subscriber or household.
A household is anyone living at the same address who share income and household expenses.
A one-per-household worksheet must be completed any time more than one subscriber at a single residential address receives Lifeline-supported service, or when a new customer applies for service at an address where there is already a customer receiving a Lifeline benefit.
Service providers in all states and territories will be required to use the Universal Lifeline Consumer One-Per-Household Worksheet by July 1, 2018. Until then, service providers can create their own worksheet that complies with the federal requirements.