Lifeline Services – An Overview of the Program and Its Impact on Society

Since 1985, Lifeline has subsidized telephone services for low-income Americans. It has undergone major reform twice–first to combat ongoing allegations of fraud and second to bring the subsidies in line with emerging technologies. The program also offers a national suicide and crisis line, 988, with a special sub-network for Spanish-language speakers. And more Americans are accessing the service than ever before, according to federal data.

Cell Phones

Using your cell phone is an excellent way to stay connected with the world. It allows you to talk with people, make and receive calls, and access the Internet anytime and anywhere. Mobile phones are small, handheld wireless devices connected to a radio transmitter and receiver tower. They can place and receive telephone calls and may be used to check email, store photos, play music, and browse the Internet. The U.S. government has seen the need to help low-income families who cannot afford to have mobile phones. Thus, the Lifeline program was endorsed. One of the perks of the Lifeline service, such as the free Lifeline service in Missouri, is free mobile phones. Mobile phones are a technological revolution that has changed how people live. Their simple use, including talking and texting, has improved the lives of millions around the world.


The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate among devices and networks. It allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to access information quickly and easily. The Internet also helps people send and receive files and documents. These files, large or small, are broken down into manageable chunks of data called packets and sent across the Internet in a process that can take less than a second to reach a recipient device. It also hosts a variety of websites, including encyclopedias and social media posts. This information is used by consumers to find answers to their questions or by businesses to promote themselves and reach a broader audience.


Lifeline is a government program allowing eligible consumers to receive discounts on their home phone or wireless service. This can include a bill credit, a voice usage allowance, or a reduced rate for mobile data usage and voice calls. To be eligible, your household must meet income-eligibility guidelines that vary depending on your residence. These guidelines are based on the number of people in your household and how much they share in household expenses. Your household’s total income must be less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. In addition, you must have or be related to someone participating in an eligible government assistance program.


Lifeline services are available to consumers in every U.S. state, commonwealth, territory and on Tribal lands that meet income-eligibility requirements for the program. The program provides a one-per-household discount on the telephone, broadband Internet access, and voice-broadband bundled service from participating carriers. This discount is not transferrable and must be used only by the household. Eligible telecommunications carriers must verify the program-based eligibility of prospective subscribers by accessing one or more eligibility databases. In addition, eligible telecommunications carriers must review documentation demonstrating that the prospective subscriber meets the requirements for program-based eligibility. This includes a statement of benefits from a qualifying assistance program, a notice or letter of participation in a qualifying assistance program, program participation documents, or another official document. In addition, a household’s total income must be less than 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.


Lifeline provides a discount on telephone and broadband services to qualifying low-income consumers. It helps reduce the cost of communication services, allowing people to stay connected to jobs, family and other important matters. The discounts may be applied to voice services (landline and cable), voice bundles, or bundled broadband packages. They may also be combined with a state or federally-recognized aid program to maximize benefits.

The Lifeline program is part of the Universal Service Fund and is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC is responsible for data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the program. Its website has a wealth of information about Lifeline services, including the eligibility requirements and requirements to receive support. It also lists the participating telephone and broadband providers who offer discounts.


Medicaid is a federal program that helps low-income individuals and families pay for medical services. Its benefits include regular checkups, prescription medicines, and other health-related services such as eye exams, hearing exams, wheelchairs, and hospital transportation. Almost half of all Medicaid enrollees are children, while one-fifth are seniors and people with disabilities. The government pays states a fixed percentage (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP) of their costs for providing these services to these populations. Some states also receive additional funds from the federal government to serve certain groups of people. These include adults in poor, working families who are not covered by SSI or other social security programs; those whose income is above the state’s regular Medicaid eligibility limit but whose medical expenses reduce their disposable income below that level; and people unable to obtain private health insurance for long-term services and supports.

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