Financial assistance through the Lifeline program is available to help eligible Iowans afford and maintain basic telephone service or broadband internet access service. Lifeline participation enables Iowans to stay connected to jobs, family, community resources, and government and emergency services.
In May 2016, the Federal Communications Commission made many changes to the Lifeline program and added broadband internet access service to the list of subsidized services. However, these changes did not become effective until December 2, 2016.
Lifeline is a federal government program that assists qualified Iowans by providing a monthly bill credit of $9.25 on either one telephone service (home or wireless) or one internet service (home or mobile) per qualified household. Customers will have to choose whether to obtain federally subsidized service from a telephone or broadband provider. Households currently receiving more than one Lifeline service must select a single Lifeline service provider and de-enroll from the program with any other provider(s).
The rules for demonstrating eligibility for Lifeline have also changed. Households may continue to verify eligibility through proof of participation in Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance Program, or Veteran’s Pension or Survivor Benefits. Consumers may also qualify if they can provide proof of income below 135 percent of the federal poverty level. Participation in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program, or the National School Lunch Programs will no longer be accepted as proof of eligibility.
A Lifeline application form is available from your local telephone or internet service provider, the Iowa Utilities Board, or most Community Action Agencies in the state. To apply, simply complete the application form and then return it to your chosen participating provider. Review a list of participating providers in Iowa. Additionally, residents of Tribal lands who are eligible for Lifeline should check with their local telecommunications provider to inquire about additional benefits, including potential Link-Up telephone installation benefits.
Re-certification forms are sent to all Lifeline subscribers each year. In order to continue receiving Lifeline assistance, these forms must be completed and returned to the subscriber’s telephone or internet provider within 30 days. If the re-certification form is not returned, the telephone or internet provider will discontinue the subscriber’s Lifeline assistance.
Lifeline application forms of the largest telephone providers serving Iowa are also available online:
- Lifeline Application (PDF - for former Qwest Customers)
- Lifeline Application - Spanish (PDF - for former Qwest Customers
- Lifeline Application (PDF - for former CenturyTel/Embarq customers)
For more information, call the Iowa Utilities Board toll free at 1.877.565.4450, or visit www.usac.org.