In Ohio, the Lifeline program is crucial in ensuring eligible residents can access affordable and reliable communication services. The federal Lifeline program helps low-income individuals and families have easier access to phone and internet services by providing a monthly discount on these services. As Ohioans navigate the challenges of daily life, having a lifeline provider becomes a lifeline to essential communication.
Support Lifeline voice service for all low-income households.
What is Lifeline?
The Lifeline program is designed to bridge the communication gap for those facing financial constraints. Eligible participants can receive a discount on their monthly phone or internet bills, ensuring they can stay connected with family, friends, employers, and emergency services.
Lifeline is a monthly benefits program that helps eligible households pay for essential communications services, like landline, wireless, or broadband. The Universal Service Administrative Company, or USAC, runs the program. To qualify, a household’s total income must be at or below the federal poverty guidelines. Eligible households can receive benefits for one service type per month, depending on their preference and the available options in their area. The program is open to residents of every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, including tribal lands.
The government started the program in 1984 to ensure low-income individuals had access to affordable communications services. Since then, the program has evolved to provide additional services and assistance to help even more people stay connected. Ohio residents can sign up for Lifeline or the Alternative Connectivity Program to receive financial aid, including free phone service and discounted landline rates.
How do I apply for Lifeline?
In Ohio, you may qualify for Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) if your income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. You can also qualify if you participate in a government assistance program or receive supplemental security income. You can apply for the benefit online or in person. You must provide proof of your income and participation in an eligible program or a copy of the most recent monthly statement of an accepted program, such as food stamps or Medicaid.
After you receive confirmation that you qualify for Lifeline, choose an Ohio lifeline provider and sign up. To confirm your identity, you must provide your name, birth date, and the final four digits of your Social Security or tribal identification number. You must also confirm that you are not receiving Lifeline benefits through another provider and reverify your eligibility annually.
Many companies offer free Lifeline phone service in Ohio and across the country. You can use this tool to find a company that offers Lifeline or ACP services and devices. You can also ask your current company if they offer the benefit and sign up with them. The ACP program replaces the previous Electronic Benefits Budget (EBB), which provided a monthly discount on phone or broadband service and a one-time discount on an internet-capable device.
How do I find a Lifeline provider?
Ohio has a high unemployment rate, and many residents need help paying for basic phone service. Fortunately, the federal Lifeline free government cell phone program and the newer Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) free government internet service program can help Ohioans stay connected.
The Lifeline program is offered through eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) designated by their respective state public utility commission or, in some cases, the FCC. These ETCs can discount Lifeline subscribers on their monthly telephone or broadband Internet service or bundled voice-broadband services.
How do I get help with Lifeline?
Lifeline goes beyond providing affordable communication services; it opens doors to educational opportunities, job searches, telehealth services, and staying informed about community resources. The program contributes to the overall well-being of participants.
Statewide outreach programs aim to raise awareness about Lifeline and its benefits. These initiatives ensure that eligible residents are informed about the program, encouraging them to take advantage of this essential service.
If you are a low-income residential customer, you may be eligible for Lifeline 135, which provides monthly credit on telecommunications services. The credit can be applied to qualifying broadband internet services or to voice service. You can also apply the credit to a bundle including voice and broadband service. Eligibility for the program is determined by yearly household income and reliance on income-based government assistance programs.
You can verify your eligibility for the program by using the National Verifier Application System. USAC operates this online system, eliminating the need for paper-based documentation of your eligibility. It is important to remember that only one Lifeline discount is available per household, and you must revert your eligibility each year.
In Ohio, the Lifeline program is a lifeline for those who need it most. By connecting eligible residents to affordable communication services, Lifeline providers play a vital role in fostering community engagement, supporting education, and enhancing overall well-being. For Ohioans facing economic challenges, Lifeline is more than a program; it’s an opportunity for connectivity and staying connected in an increasingly digital world.