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A Guide to Getting an Assisted Low Income Home Phone Service

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There are many organizations that offer help to low income or otherwise struggling American families and another one of these can help you out with an assisted low-income home phone service. The Universal Service Administrative Company, otherwise known as USAC provides this service to thousands of low income American citizens each year. If you need help paying for a phone line then you may be able to get it through USAC. You may also want to consider Lifeline Security.

What Do the Universal Service Administrative Company Do?

USAC provide a program to low-income citizens that is entitles ‘Lifeline’. Lifeline covers a portion of the recipient’s monthly phone line rental and their initial set up costs. The actual amounts covered vary from person to person and state to state but they can be up to $12 a month and $30 for the set up costs.

Why Was the Lifeline Program Created?

Like most other government endorsed assistance programs the main purpose of the Lifeline program is to protect American citizens. Specifically the provision of low cost phone lines ensures that everyone has access to a working phone when they need it, for example in an emergency. It is also in the interest of public progression for every person to have full access to basic amenities so that they can function in society. Phone lines are becoming considered as a basic amenity and perhaps in the future internet access will be the same.

What Do You Need to Qualify for Lifeline?

Provided you are not a dependant of another person (that is, receiving financial aid from a friend or family member) you can be eligible for the Lifeline program as long as you:

– Are in receipt of government-funded assistance already, or,
– You qualify as low-income based on your location, income and assets.

Specific requirements will vary based on your state and local government. What is considered to be low-income in one area may not be considered as such in another area so you should check local guidelines before applying.

What Sort of Phone Services Can You Have on Lifeline?

Lifeline does not support all available phone services but the main ones you will need are supported. All local area unlimited or limited programs, all touch-tone phone lines, some basic call tracking services and caller ID blocking services are covered or allowable whilst in receipt of Lifeline. Also allowable are special phone services that have a reduced installation fee. In this case, however, it can just be better to allow Lifeline to help you with the standard installation fee as it may even end up being cheaper. If you can afford to upgrade to a better service the you will no longer be eligible for Lifeline benefits.

How To Join Lifeline

Joining can typically be done directly through USAC or indirectly through your landline provider. If you wish to apply directly to USAC you will need to download an application form and post it to the specified address for your area. Application forms are in PDF format and can be retrieved from USAC’s website or from some telecommunication company’s websites.

If you would rather apply to Lifeline through your provider you can speak with them directly either in store or over the phone. Let them know that you qualify and wish to apply for low income assistance through the Lifeline program.

What if You Cannot Get Into Lifeline?

The main reason why you may not be able to receive Lifeline is because you exceed what is defined as low income for your area. Thankfully there are a few other options available to people that still find themselves struggling to pay for their phone access.

Link Up America – Link Up America is the primary alternative program available to people that cannot receive Lifeline. Link Up America will cover part or all of your initial set up costs provided you can meet their own regulations (which are less strict than Lifeline’s). Link Up America will not, however, cover monthly fees.

Local Programs – Aside from Link Up America there may be other programs available in your local area through you local government or another non-government organization. The best way to find these programs is to speak directly to you service provider.

A Guide to Getting an Assisted Low Income Home Phone Service
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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