Program Overview

Service Provider Responsibilities

Service providers are responsible for complying with all of the Lifeline Program’s rules, including any applicable state laws or requirements.

To do so, providers must:

  • Put processes and procedures in place to make sure the rules are followed.
  • Stay up to date. Rules change over time, so service providers are responsible for being aware of and implementing any changes. Changes to the rules occur through FCC Orders and Public Notices or originate from states.
  • Keep documentation that demonstrates their compliance with all state and federal rules and requirements.

Overview of the Rules

Note: USAC can help service providers understand the Lifeline Program’s rules, but there is no replacement for reading the FCC’s Lifeline Program Rules in full.

USAC is rolling out the National Verifier, which is a new application system that streamlines the Lifeline application across all states, territories, and service providers. Service provider processes will differ between states and territories where the National Verifier has launched and where the National Verifier has not yet been implemented.

For more information on the program with the National Verifier, please see below. For questions about legacy processes (where the National Verifier has not yet launched), including the National Lifeline Accountability (NLAD) opt-out states (California, Oregon, and Texas) email LifelineProgram@usac.org.

Verify Subscriber Eligibility

Service providers must use the National Verifier to determine customer eligibility. A service provider may assist a customer in-person, through the National Verifier service provider portal, or the consumer may apply on their own online or by mailing in a paper application.

Provide an Eligible Service

Service providers can only apply the Lifeline discount to certain service types. Learn more on the Provide High-Speed Broadband Service page and the Lifeline-Supported Voice Service page. Service providers that provide a bundled offering may apply the discount to any component of the bundle that meets Lifeline’s standards.

After a customer qualifies for Lifeline, the service provider must enter the customer’s information into NLAD before providing the Lifeline discount.

Keep NLAD Up-to-Date

NLAD confirms that the customer has qualified through the National Verifier and prevents subscribers from claiming more than one discount. Service providers are not allowed to claim reimbursement for a customer unless they are entered in NLAD. Please update NLAD every time a customer status changes, including changes to their information (for example, a change of address).

Claim Reimbursement for Providing the Discount

After service providers provide the Lifeline discount to their customers, they claim reimbursement from USAC. This can be done on a monthly basis.

Confirm Subscriber Eligibility Annually

Each year, customers must recertify by their “anniversary date” (as shown in NLAD) to confirm that they are is still eligible for Lifeline. The National Verifier handles the recertification process, and subscribers that are not recertified automatically will receive outreach from USAC to recertify online, on the phone, or by mailing in a recertification form.

Prepare for Annual Filings

Each year, service providers must submit FCC Form 555 (due January 31), to report on non-usage and any recertifications that the service provider conducted, and FCC form 481 (due July 1), which includes certain annual certifications.

De-Enroll Ineligible Customers

If a customer is no longer eligible for Lifeline, their service provider must de-enroll them in NLAD within one business day.

Advertise Lifeline

Service providers must advertise Lifeline in their area.

Audits and Assessments

USAC conducts audits and assessments to confirm that participating service providers are following the rules. Learn about the most common audit findings for the Lifeline Program.