Posted on August 18, 2020

The Lifeline phone service has been developed by the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, more than thirty years ago. Changes have taken place throughout the years to improve on the service, but the idea behind it remains the same. The Lifeline service is designed to make communications services more affordable for low-income families by providing them with either a free or heavily discounted phone service. This service is important because it allows families to remain connected with others, reach emergency services, network with others, and find jobs.

How It Works

As described by the FCC, the Lifeline service is designed to provide families with either a discounted or free communications service. This service can be in the form of wireline or wireless service, but it cannot be both. Lifeline also provides low-income families with broadband internet service, but again, it can only be either the phone or the internet, and not both at one address.

Specific eligibility criteria have been developed, which you can review before you start the application process. There are two ways in which a household can become eligible for the service. The first is to be a part of a government-run program, which will be mentioned later, and the second is to be considered low-income as in regard to the poverty line.

History

The program was first developed back in 1985, and it provided a landline for all low-income families. It was determined back then that all families should be able to have access to communication, which connects them not only with other family members but with potential job searches and emergency services. This means that it is offered in every state, territory, and Tribal Lands.

By 1996, the FCC moved forward with offering households who qualify either a landline or cell phone services in order to keep up with the changing times. In 2016, the FCC adopted the Lifeline Modernization Order, which now includes broadband access as well.

Tulsa Lifeline Service and Benefits

Oklahoma Corporation Commission is a public utility division that manages the Lifeline Program and the additional Link Up America program. All of the households who qualify can receive free cell phone and an additional discount on the phone bill. Under the Lifeline Program, a household phone bill will be reduced, whereas, under the Link Up America program, any installation charges are waived.

Oklahoma also offers the Basic and the Enhanced Lifeline/Link Up Programs. The Enhanced Lifeline program is for those individuals living on current or former Tribal land. This is because, in Oklahoma,64 of the 77 counties are former tribal lands.

Enhanced Lifeline Benefits

The Enhanced Lifeline and Link Up benefits were made as a result of a study that was conducted by the FCC in the year 2000. The study found that as much as 40% of families that lived on a reservation were without a phone service within their home. Those who qualify for the service can have additional benefits of up to $25 a month for a basic phone service and 100% up to $100 of an installation fee covered.

Services Included

Within these benefits, the following services are covered:

  • Nationwide Calling
  • Unlimited Text Messaging
  • Call Waiting
  • Three-way calling
  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID
  • No Roaming Fees
  • No Charge for Domestic Long Distance
  • Free 911

Eligibility

Two criteria determine eligibility for the program:

  1. Receive assistance from a government-run program:
    1. Food Stamps
    2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    3. Medicaid
    4. Supplementary Security Insurance (SSI)
    5. Vocational Rehabilitation; deaf or hard of hearing
    6. States Sales Tax Relief Act
    7. Bureau of Indian Affairs (Enhanced Lifeline)
    8. Tribally Administered TANF (Enhanced Lifeline)
    9. Head Start (Enhanced Lifeline)
    10. National Free School Lunch Program (Enhanced Lifeline)
  2. A household income that is at or below 135% of the poverty line. This information can be found through each state separately as the poverty line will vary based on your location.

Application

The application to become eligible for your free Lifeline service is straightforward and can be completed online for your convenience. Assist Wireless will walk with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive a benefit that best fits your household needs. As the #1 Oklahoma Lifeline Provider, we are there to assist you with any benefit and service questions you may run into along the road.

Documentation

Part of the application process is providing documentation to prove your eligibility. Apart from the paperwork that proves you are a recipient of a government-run program or fall within the 135% poverty line, you must also provide documentation that shows your identity and proof of your address.

Proof of Identity documentation:

  • Driver’s License or State ID
  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Weapons Permit
  • Military Discharge paperwork
  • S. Government or Tribal issued ID

Proof of Address:

  • Driver’s License or a State ID
  • Government Assistance Program Documents
  • Utility Bill
  • An Income Statement such as a W2 or a paystub
  • Mortgage or Lease
  • Retirement or Pension Statement of Benefits

Remember, you don’t need to provide all of the listed documents, but rather the one that you have available for each of the points to ensure that you provide adequate proof of who you are and your current address. This is very important because the benefit applies to a household at a time, rather than to an individual.

While you go through the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to Assist Wireless as the foremost expert and provider of the Lifeline program. Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for a free government phone as part of the free Lifeline service whether you receive the basic or the enhanced package.