How To Get a Discount on Internet Access with Lifeline

We are always looking for ways to get a discount on Internet Access. The less you are paying for an internet-only plan, the more you save when using cable TV alternatives. Today we are going to explain how to get a discount on your monthly internet service with the Lifeline Program.

The Lifeline Program is a Federal program that provides a discount on broadband or phone service for low-income households. The discount is currently $9.25 per month, but the discount can only be used on 1 communication service per household (Internet, cell phone, or landline.) If your household lives on tribal land, you may be eligible to get a discount of $34.25 per month.

Current regulations set speed standards for providers servicing customers using the Lifeline program. The 2019 bandwidth speed standards are 18 Mbps of download, which is enough bandwidth to stream video. In 2020, those standards increase the download speed to 20 Mbps.

If the provider doesn’t offer those speeds in your area, you can still get the discount as long as you purchase a broadband offering that meets or exceeds 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

Who Can Qualify for the Lifeline Discount

There are four ways to qualify for the Lifeline program and receive at least $9.25 per month discount on your internet or phone service. They are:

  • Household Income
  • or A member of your household uses a Federal Assistance Program
  • or qualify through a child or dependent
  • or live on tribal lands and meet eligibility (discount of $34.25 per month)

Let’s go over the details of each way you can qualify for the program.

Qualify based on Household Income

The first way to see if you qualify for the program is household income. If a household has an income of less than 135% of the federal poverty guideline for that year, then they are eligible for Lifeline’s $9.25 monthly discount. The table below shows the 2019 income thresholds for the Lifeline program.

source

Documentation Required

If you qualify using household income, you will need to verify your income when you sign up for the program. To prove your household is under the income threshold for the program, you will have to submit one or more of the following documents:

  • The prior year’s state, federal, or Tribal tax return
  • Current income statement from an employer or paycheck stub
  • A Social Security statement of benefits
  • A Veterans Administration statement of benefits
  • A retirement/pension statement of benefits
  • An Unemployment/Workers’ Compensation statement of benefit
  • Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
  • Divorce decree, child support award, or other official document containing income information

If you use documentation that doesn’t cover a full year, like pay stubs, you will need to show documentation that covers three months in a row over the past year.

These guidelines change yearly, so check back if you are above the line this year. You may qualify when the federal government raises the threshold next year.

Qualify Through a Federal Assistance Program

You automatically qualify for the Lifeline program if you or a member of your household use any of the following Federal programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension

Documentation Required

You will need to prove that you or a member of your household is a participant in one of these program by submitting a document that includes the following:

  • Your name, or the name of your benefit qualifying person (BQP);
  • The name of the Lifeline-qualifying program, such as SNAP;
  • The government program administrator or the managed care organization (MCO) that issued the document; and
  • An issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date that aligns with the benefit period.

Qualify Through a Child or Dependent

You can also qualify for Lifeline if your child or dependent participates in any of the programs listed above. You will need the documentation listed above as well when qualifying through a dependent.

Tribal Lifeline

If you live on Tribal lands, your household is eligible for an additional $25 discount, bringing the total Lifeline monthly discount to $34.25 per month. Tribal lands include any federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, Pueblo, or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions, Hawaiian Home Lands, or Indian Allotments.

To qualify, you must live on tribal lands and participate in one of the following programs:

  • Any of the Federal Assistance Programs listed above
  • or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance
  • or Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • or Tribal head Start
  • or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

Documentation Required

You will need to prove that you or a member of your household is a participant in one of these program by submitting a document that includes the following:

  • Your name, or the name of your benefit qualifying person (BQP);
  • The name of the Lifeline-qualifying program, such as SNAP;
  • The government or Tribal program administrator or the managed care organization (MCO) that issued the document; and
  • An issue date within the last 12 months or a future expiration date that aligns with the benefit period.

How To Sign Up For the Lifeline Program

If you qualify, you can sign up through your ISP. Verizon Internet, Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, AT&T Internet, and others participate in the program.

Check with your internet provider to verify they support the program and ask them for an application. You will need your qualifying documentation and the following information to apply:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (or Tribal identification number)
  • Home Address

You should also be prepared to show at least one of these items:

If you currently do not have an internet provider that supports the Lifeline, use this tool to look for companies that participate in the program.

If this article didn't answer your specific question, head over to our Home Page! It will guide you to affordable internet providers, streaming services to meet your needs, information on antennas, and many more tools and resources to help you save money on TV and Internet access.

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