It would help if you recertified every year to keep your Lifeline discount. You can do this online, by mail, or over the phone. It would enable you to use your full legal name (the one on your Social Security card or state ID). Annual recertification uses automated data source checks to confirm that you still qualify for free talk, text and data. It’s quick, easy and secure.
What is Lifeline?
The FCC’s Lifeline program subsidizes the cost of voice and broadband (Internet) services for low-income consumers. The program is designed to help ensure every household can access affordable communication services. The program was established in 1985 and has undergone many reforms. The most recent reforms came under Wheeler and focused on eliminating fraud in the program by leveraging information from other federal programs to verify eligibility, reducing the amount of documentation required to get started with the Lifeline program and expanding the program to include bundled voice and Internet service.
Your annual income must equal or less than 135% of the federal poverty level. You must also be enrolled in or eligible for other federal programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance or the Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit. In addition, if you live on Tribal Land, your eligibility can be determined by participating in the BIA General Assistance program or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
Each year, subscribers must recertify their eligibility for the Lifeline program. This process, called recertification, is separate from reverification and requires that each subscriber go through an automated data source check to confirm their eligibility. Subscribers will be notified by their service provider or USAC if they need to self-certify, and they will have 60 days to respond.
How do I recertify?
All Lifeline participants must recertify annually to ensure they continue to qualify for the program. USAC and the individual phone and internet providers will notify all Lifeline participants that it is time to recertify, along with instructions on how to do so. The notice will include a link to recertify online. You can complete the process by calling the IVR (only available for S-Applications) or completing and returning the mailed recertification form.
USAC will conduct a database check of all active Lifeline subscribers determined eligible through the National Verifier system to ensure eligibility continues. Subscribers that pass this database check will not be required to recertify for the calendar year. Subscribers who still need to pass this check must recertify through the National Verifier system each year in May.
The Lifeline recertification process will be conducted promptly, and subscribers should be able to access the online or over-the-phone recertification methods within 60 days of their anniversary date. When it’s time to recertify, subscribers will either receive a letter in the mail from USAC or a prerecorded call to their phone. The letter will provide their application ID and let them know if they must submit documentation in addition to the database check. Those who do not need to supply documents can recertify over the phone using the IVR in about 10 minutes.
What happens if I don’t recertify?
The annual recertification process is a requirement for everyone enrolled in the Lifeline program. You must complete it on time to keep your free talk, text, and data. Please recertify to ensure your service is not terminated. Each year, the USAC or your state (if you live in a state that doesn’t participate in the National Verifier Program – CA, OR, TX) will contact you via letter or prerecorded message on your phone to ask you to confirm that you still qualify for the program. In most cases, they can verify your eligibility from their information on file, so you won’t be asked to provide any documentation of your program participation.
You’ll also have the option to recertify online or by mail. The process takes about five minutes and is available in English or Spanish. If you choose to recertify online or by mail, you’ll need your application ID, which is texted or located on the renewal form sent by the USAC administrator. After completing the recertification procedure, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) should send you a letter informing you of your success or failure. If you fail the recertification, you must submit documentation showing you meet the income requirements to regain your benefits.
The annual recertification process is simple, allowing you to prove that your household meets the Lifeline program rules. Unlike the initial application process, supporting documentation is not required for annual recertification. Usually, USAC can confirm your eligibility by checking their database. If they still need to, they will send you a letter or prerecorded message asking you to recertify your status. In some cases, the company you signed up with will be responsible for confirming your eligibility and will contact you directly. The letter will also include your eligibility start date. You will have 60 days to recertify your income or enrollment in a government assistance program. If you cannot do this, you will be removed from the Lifeline program, and your phone service will be disconnected.
If you have proof that you meet the rules, submit it to your service provider before your annual recertification date. If you do this, your servicer can recalculate your payment immediately.
If you have proof that you meet the rules but cannot complete your annual recertification on time, your service will be suspended until you can recertify. In most cases, you can resume your service once you have submitted proof that you meet the rules to your servicer. The easiest way to recertify is by phone. Just have your application ID ready.