The Lifeline program in Connecticut will provide a low income household with a reduction on their monthly home or cell phone bills. The federal government funded benefit will only cover one unit per household and there are a number of restrictions in place as noted below.
The goal of Lifeline is to ensure that lower to moderate income families have access to some sort of telephone service. Examples of households that are enrolled in the state of Connecticut range from a home with a senior citizen to those that families that are considered to be working poor. Many disabled families also sign up for Lifeline and may in fact qualify as they have a fixed income.
Most of the phone companies, whether cellular or others, allow their customers to sign up. Providers such as AT&T, Safelink, and Verizon are some of the main providers in the state. However a customer should always call their phone company to inquire. If they have any questions on whether they can enroll, the person is encouraged to contact their local service office.
Any assistance provided from Lifeline will be provided in the form of a reduction in their monthly phone bills. The savings will usually be around $10 to $20 per month. Not only that, but Lifeline or the Connecticut Telephone Connection Assistance Program (CTCAP) service can also usually pay for a portion of a fee to start a phone service as well.
There is only one phone allowed per household. So the applicant can use a cell or home telephone, but not both. It also does not matter how many people live in the house. Whether it is one person or an entire family with many children, they are still only allowed one phone per residence. Another key criteria is that the household can't use more than one vendor for their Lifeline service.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) supported program only pays for basic service as well. So additional features such as international long distance or call waiting will not be available. While some companies, such as Safelink, will provide text messaging as part of Lifeline, this is not common and is not a requirement in Connecticut as this is considered to be above and beyond what is needed by the customer.
Assistance on telephone bills is only available for very low income residents in Connecticut. They usually need to have an income at about 150% of federal poverty levels, when factoring in the number of people that live in the home. So the larger the household, the higher their income can be. If the applicant lives on a fixed income, in many cases that will qualify them for the discount.
Families that receive state of Connecticut benefits, such as Medicaid, LIHEAP, or food stamps can automatically enroll into Lifeline. This is due to the fact that since their income must already be low enough to receive public aid, that they are then automatically considered to be qualified.
The assistance is also contingent on client notifying their phone company if their income were to change and if they no longer meet the applicable eligibility requirements. This needs to occur within at most 30 days. However, the state of Connecticut will also require everyone to reapply after 12 months, as Lifeline is intended to be a temporary reduction in phone bills.
So while Lifeline can help a family with their telephone bills, it is very limited and short term in nature. There are many other restrictions in place by the state. Anyone that is interest in learning more, or even in applying, should call their phone company directly. They process applications for Lifeline and can answer any questions that customers have.
To apply, residents should call their telephone company. If they are unfairly denied, only then should they dial (860) 713-6100 to reach the Hartford based Connecticut Consumer protection agency.
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