COVID-19 Update: USAC remains open for business—Washington, DC office closed. Learn more about USF program responses

Lifeline Resources for State and Federal Partners

Lifeline is a federal program that helps lower the cost of monthly phone or Internet service for low-income consumers.

Lifeline is especially important during the pandemic to help Americans connect to loved ones, telework, search for jobs, and participate in remote learning and telehealth. We urge our state and federal partners to help spread Lifeline awareness by sharing the below resources with their stakeholders.

Key Things to Know About Lifeline

  • Lifeline lowers the cost of eligible low-income consumers’ phone or Internet bills by providing a monthly discount of up to $9.25, and up to $34.25 for residents on Tribal lands.
  • Lifeline is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which has been designated as the program’s permanent administrator by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • Consumers qualify for Lifeline through participation in a qualifying government benefit program, such as SNAP or Medicaid, or if their income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • The FCC requires Lifeline providers to meet minimum service standards for Lifeline service, as follows:
    • Mobile voice: 1000 mins/month
    • Mobile broadband: 3G or better speed;​ 3 GB monthly usage allowance
    • Home broadband: 20/3 Mbps speed; 1024 GB monthly usage allowance

Lifeline Informational Material

Download the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) brochure for consumer information about the program’s eligibility criteria, the application process, and Lifeline’s contact information. State PUCs may add their contact information, availability, and logo to the first page of the brochure, as well as any relevant state-specific information to the last page, so that consumers in their state can reach the PUC with state-specific questions.

Visit LifelineSupport.org and click on:

  • Community Outreach” for consumer informational material on Lifeline, including a:
  • Tribal Lands” for information specific to the enhanced Tribal benefit for residents of federally-recognized Tribal lands.
  • Companies Near Me” for a tool that provides a printable list of Lifeline phone or Internet companies that serve a specific area by entering a zip code or city and state.

Lifeline Application Process

Visit USAC’s consumer website for an overview of the Lifeline application process for consumers and how to:

Lifeline uses a system called the National Verifier to determine if a consumer is eligible for the monthly discount. Visit the Eligibility Decision Process page to learn which qualifying programs the National Verifier connects with to automatically verify a consumer’s eligibility. If the National Verifier cannot confirm a consumer’s eligibility automatically, the consumer will need to upload documents to prove their Lifeline eligibility.

Please note that the majority of consumers in California, Oregon, and Texas do not use the National Verifier to apply for Lifeline and must follow their state-specific processes. Contact the respective state Public Utility Commission for this information.

State Access to Lifeline Systems

Lifeline provides state partners with access to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) to query the database and run reports for individual Lifeline subscribers in the state. Lifeline also provides state partners with access to the National Verifier to help consumers submit online Lifeline applications, upload eligibility or other documentation (as needed), and track the status of applications.

For more information on how to receive access to either system, review the NLAD Account Types page.

Lifeline Covid-19 Relief

In partnership with the FCC, USAC implemented temporary program changes to ensure continued service and provide increased flexibility for Lifeline consumers during the pandemic. For more information on these changes, which include pausing all involuntary de-enrollments and easing certain documentation requirements to streamline the Lifeline application process, visit Lifeline’s Covid-19 Response page.

For updates on the broader range of FCC actions to ensure Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of the pandemic, visit the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected page. As part of this initiative, many communications providers pledged to avoid disconnecting service or charging late fees due to subscriber non-payment during the pandemic.  Some providers, including Lifeline providers, also agreed to go above and beyond the pledge by relaxing their voice and data usage limits and taking other steps to promote remote learning and telehealth during the pandemic.

Lifeline Training Opportunities

USAC regularly hosts training webinars for social service agencies, consumer advocacy groups, and other organizations that wish to help consumers learn more about applying for Lifeline.

  • For more information and to register, click on “Upcoming Dates.”
  • For past training sessions, visit USAC’s Webinars page.

Connect with a Lifeline Program Analyst

If you are interested in learning more about Lifeline and how you can support consumers, email us.

Contact the Lifeline Support Center

If you are assisting a consumer with completing an application or renewing their benefit and have questions about the process, email LifelineSupport@usac.org or call (800) 234-9473. The Lifeline Support Center is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, seven days a week.