Yes, you can afford telephone service...
Every person in America should have access to quality,
affordable telecommunications service. This principal
of "Universal Service" has been the goal of the telecommunications
industry for decades. In 1934, the federal government
codified the goal and reaffirmed it in 1996 by establishing
policies for the "preservation and advancement of Universal
To achieve the Universal Service goal, carriers have
access to a fund that is generated by contributions
from the telecommunications providers in the United
States. Telecommunications companies draw from the fund
to provide four programs that support telecommunications
Link-Up America (Link-Up) and Lifeline Assistance
Program (Lifeline) are part of the fund's Low-Income
Program and are described in detail below. Toll Limitation
Service (TLS) is another program available
to low-income subscribers to help them control what
they spend on telephone service.
Lifeline, Link Up and TLS provide discounts
to eligible low-income consumers to help them establish
and maintain telephone service.
What type of discount is available?
Lifeline assistance lowers the cost of
basic monthly local telephone service. Eligible consumers
can receive up to $10 per month in discounts. Additional
state support also may be available.
Link Up reduces the cost of initiating new telephone
service. Eligible consumers can receive a 50% discount
off of the one-time costs associated with initiating
telephone service, up to a maximum of $30. Eligible
consumers also qualify for a deferred payment schedule
for remaining costs of up to $200.
TLS support allows eligible consumers who wish
to avoid incurring large long distance fees to choose
toll blocking at no cost.
How do I know whether I am eligible? Eligibility
for Lifeline, Link Up and TLS support varies by state. Individuals
who reside in states that have their own discount programs qualify
for federal Lifeline, Link Up and TLS support if they meet the
eligibility criteria established by their state. In states that
do no provide state support, an individual is eligible if he
or she participates in one o the following programs:
In addition, a consumer may be eligible if his or her household
income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines (as of January 22, 2015):
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch free lunch program
|Number of people
living in the home.
(at or below)
For each additional
How do I apply to receive Lifeline, Link Up and TLS support
discounts? Consumers must apply through their
local telephone company - please let us know if you are interested
in any of these programs. Visit the Universal Service Administration
Company (USAC) web site at www.lifelinesupport.org for more information about eligibility requirements. You may
also call USAC toll free at 1-800-234-9473, with any questions
about Lifeline, Link Up and TLS discounts.