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 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.
On February 20, 2018, the FCC issued a Public Notice stating that its Wireline Competition Bureau has provided guidance on the new universal application forms for the Lifeline Program. The notice stated that consumers and eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) must use the new application forms to verify and re-certify subscriber eligibility for the federal Lifeline benefit beginning on July 1, 2018. The FCC Bureau has worked closely with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to develop user-friendly, plain language forms that will be used to apply for and recertify eligibility for Lifeline program benefits. The three universal forms are available on USAC’s website. The forms will be available in both English and Spanish language versions.
The following are direct links to the new Lifeline universal application and re-certification forms for all subscribers:
The new Lifeline application forms should also be 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.
For more information, call the Iowa Utilities Board toll free at 1.877.565.4450, or visit www.usac.org.