PUC Encourages Eligible Customers to ‘Stay Connected’ During Lifeline Awareness Week
Authored By: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
In coordination with a national effort to reach those in need of telecommunications assistance, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recognizes Sept. 10-14 as Lifeline Awareness Week, to help nearly 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians stay connected through the Lifeline Program.
“Lifeline is intended to help make communications more affordable and more accessible for low-income households, helping them stay connected to information about jobs, family, health care, schools and emergency services,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Lifeline helps connect customers to the nation’s communications networks and has been updated to include both voice and broadband options. Participating carriers are required to promote the Lifeline program, and recent changes to the program, such as the requirement for annual recertification of eligibility, have made educating recipients even more important.”
The Lifeline Program is a government benefit program that provides eligible low-income consumers with a discount on monthly service for voice (telephone), Broadband Internet Access Service (or BIAS, usually called internet service), or a combined telephone/internet service product from a landline or wireless provider. This helps ensure these consumers have the opportunities and security that telephone and Internet service provide, including being able to connect to jobs, family, health care, schools, and 911 emergency calling services. The program provides a $9.25 per household, per month discount on your telephone or internet service from your landline or wireless provider. The discount appears in the form of a reduction to the bill you pay your service provider. A consumer qualifies for Lifeline if they are at or below 135 percent of poverty or participate in specific federal programs including Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans’ Pension and Survivor Benefit, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
A consumer receiving Lifeline must continue to certify that they are eligible. A consumer’s provider will notify them in advance. You may re-qualify for Lifeline Assistance based on income (at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines) or if you participate in these same federal programs. Any of these will serve as qualifying programs until your next recertification. A consumer who fails to recertify by the date on the notice must re-apply for Lifeline assistance.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.