7% of Americans are smartphone-dependent, where their only gateway to the internet and associated services is their phone. For many, having a good phone and data plan can be their only way to access opportunities for work and education.
When you’re looking for an economical way to pay for your phone or data plan every month, getting a Lifeline phone can save you from unnecessary financial burdens and give you an easy way to remain connected.
You won’t have to worry about contacting emergency services or being accessible when you become included under the Lifeline Program.
Insight into the Lifeline Program
The government introduced the Lifeline program to make communication services like calling, texting, and browsing the internet available for everyone, especially low-income groups.
When you’re included in the Lifeline program, you can receive a discount ranging from $9 to $34 per month on your monthly phone, broadband, or bundled services plan. These plans have to be provided by Lifeline program service providers.
The program is overseen by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), and your application process and renewal for the program go through them.
There are specific eligibility terms that you have to meet to be considered for the Lifeline program. These requirements include:
- Your income should be less than the federal poverty guidelines (it has to be 135% or less to be considered). This can vary depending on your household size and state too.
- You or someone in your household participates in government assistance programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Tribal Programs, and more.
- No other individual in your household is a participant in the Lifeline program.
You will require documentation to prove that all the above qualifications are legitimate. For those residing in Tribal areas, there are other eligibility conditions to fulfill.
To begin the application process, you have to register on the National Verifier Application system. It facilitates USAC to verify your documentation and eligibility.
Before beginning the process, know that not all states have currently adopted the National Verifier Application portal. Check beforehand if you need to fill out the form on this portal or a federal portal.
Benefits of the Program
The Lifeline program lets you avail of discounts on your monthly plans. Apart from that, you can also get a lifeline phone from your program service provider.
You can also opt-in for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. It is a temporary program available for all those who qualify for the Lifeline program. It is operated by the FCC and provides discounts on your monthly plans.
The EBB program lets you get unlimited calling and texting privileges along with a data pack. You can request a free smartphone or tablet with your plan too. Some service providers are offering their subscribers tablet and phone options to choose from too.
Simply contact your Lifeline program service provider to be included in the EBB plan too. Like the Lifeline program, only one member per household can be eligible.
In Case You Need Help
The correct documentation and filling out the application properly can be stressful and confusing. If you’re unsure of how to begin the process or are having trouble at any point, you can ask for help.
All Lifeline program service providers in your area can aid you in filling out your application and submitting it. Your Lifeline service provider may also offer extended customer service that lets you contact them if you have problems with your plan or smart device.
Affordable Plans and Usage
Your inclusion in the Lifeline program needs to be verified and renewed each year so your plan remains affordable. If you opt out of the program, many service providers offer affordable plans that you can continue using.
If you already have a number that you want to use for your Lifeline program services, contact the customer service of your provider and request for your number to be ported.
Lifeline program plans can be used on all GSM phones, so you don’t have to worry too much about buying a new phone just for your new phone plan. Different areas may have different rates and providers, but they tend to be affordable everywhere.
Be aware that your Lifeline phone plan is not eligible for international calling, and extra charges can apply if you make such calls. No contracts are needed to start your phone plan with Lifeline program service providers, so you can switch over whenever you want to another one. Look at all the qualifying conditions and compare various service providers before choosing the best one.