With the rising cost of living, American families find it increasingly difficult to afford their utility bills, including phone service. Having the opportunity to connect to jobs, healthcare, family, and emergency services is vital for the low-income families that aren’t able to afford it. Luckily, the Universal Service Fund assists eligible participants across the U.S. (including Tribal lands as well as Puerto Rico) to qualify for affordable phone service. Qualifying through the National Verifier is a step that is necessary to receive benefits from government programs that provide cell phone assistance. This article will explain what terms like National Verifier, EBB, and ACP mean and how to use the National Verifier application.
What Is the National Verifier?
The National Verifier (NV) is a centralized application system for Lifeline that determines the eligibility of applicants. The Universal Administrative Company (USAC) is responsible for managing the system. USAC provides customer support to participants through the Lifeline Support Center. The National Verifier automatically connects to the national Lifeline database to verify consumer eligibility. The National Verifier database contains additional information that can help determine if a person is eligible to apply for the Lifeline program based on the eligibility criteria.
The verification process for the National Lifeline Program and available database connections can vary depending on certain opt-out states like California, Oregon, and Texas, which have database connections respective to their states.
What Is Lifeline?
Lifeline is a benefit program the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides, allowing affordable communication services for low-income consumers. Qualifying subscribers receive a discount on eligible services, such as telephone, broadband or bundled packages from service providers participating in the program. The discount helps low-income households afford these services to connect with jobs, education, and healthcare resources.
How To Qualify for Lifeline
Eligibility requirements for Lifeline break down into two categories, income or participation in a government assistance program. A total household income of 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines may qualify for the program. A tax return or three consecutive pay stubs is sufficient proof and is necessary for submission. Participation in one of the following federal assistance programs also qualifies (proof is also a requirement):
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veteran’s Pension and Survivors Benefit
Applicants with total household income of 135% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines who reside on Tribal lands and participate in one of the following may also be eligible:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF)
- Tribal Head Start
- Any federal assistance programs in the above listing
Documents of proof of income or participation in approved government assisted programs are required of all applicants. After qualifying for Lifeline, participants may also be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program?
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is the government benefit program that replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program that was put in place by the FCC during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides discounts on monthly broadband Internet access service to low-income households. Eligible households receive a $30 discount toward internet service, and households on Tribal lands receive a discount of $75. Qualifying participants also receive a one-time device discount of $100 for a laptop, tablet or desktop computer purchase. The limit is one monthly service and one device per household.
Who Qualifies for Just the Affordable Connectivity Program?
For those who only wish to participate in ACP, documentation proving participation in any of the following programs is a requirement:
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- Pell Grant Awards
- Any programs listed above in the How to Qualify for Lifeline section
How To Pass the National Verifier
When a participant applies to Lifeline or the Affordable Connectivity Program, National Verifier checks and verifies the information provided against available databases. The connections available vary for each state. For instance, if an applicant has approval for SNAP, HUD, Medicaid or other assistance programs in a state with a database connection to the National Verifier, passing is instant as the documentation of proof will already be in the system. Verification approval is available online or in person. To find specific programs connected by state, visit USAC Eligibility.
How To Locate a Preferred Provider
An increasing number of wireless providers participate in Lifeline and/or ACP. To view a list on the FCC website:
- Use the Companies Near Me tool.
- Enter your city and state or ZIP Code.
- Click the “See the list of companies in ___ (your state)” at the bottom of the page to see a complete state list.
Some service providers may require a separate application process.
Get Started Today
The Lifeline National Verifier confirms, for those who are eligible, the ability to apply for combined benefits from Lifeline and ACP. Contact an Assist Wireless store today or call (855) 392-7747 for more details.